Codesigning Family-School Agency & Early Critical Literacies of Black Youth towards Systemic Racial Equity

How can schools partner with Black families, community members, and students to create literacy practices that affirm Black students’ identities and engagement? How can district leaders learn from these school-level efforts in order to expand such partnerships across the district?

Recognizing that efforts to reduce educational inequalities often employ deficit-based strategies that seek to “fix” youth of color, Ishimaru and team will build on an established research-practice partnership with Seattle Public Schools to develop a research-community-practice partnership by incorporating the expertise of Black families and community members. They will engage in participatory research at the school level, with a team of teachers, families, principals, community leaders, and district leaders, to design and pilot literacy practices that affirm the racial identities and traditions of third grade East African immigrant and African American boys. At the district level, they will engage a team of district leaders and a subset of school-level team members to iteratively analyze data generated by school-level teams. The team will examine the dynamics of the school-level partnership; analyze data from pilots of literacy practices to explore the relationship between literacy practices and student engagement; and develop a measure that captures Black boys’ responsiveness to instructional content relevant to their home lives. The district-level team will also identify processes and resources the district can use to support the use of multiple forms of data in ways that affirm the strengths of Black youth and families and foster equitable family-educator engagement. This study is part of a larger district-wide effort to improve third grade reading, particularly for Black boys, and the findings will inform not only Seattle Public Schools but other districts interested in developing similar approaches to collaborating with families and communities.

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