BOYS College is based on the premise that literacy is power, and that struggling and non-struggling readers and writers can achieve exponential growth when there is a combination of powerful literacy teaching and powerful texts. Therefore, BOYS College provides support to parents, teachers, school administrators and policy makers who continue to grapple with methods and approaches to move African American boys to advanced levels of reading and writing in the elementary grades. This is true for African American boys living and attending schools in high and low poverty communities because there is an absence of interdisciplinary depth and focus on high quality teaching and meaningful texts across the academic disciplines needed to provide effective literacy instruction to these young males that will lead to exponential reading and writing gains on formal and informal assessments. As a result, literacy reform efforts aimed at accelerating African American males’ reading and writing achievement and life outcomes have been woefully inadequate and have underestimated the depths and power of literacy in both racially segregated and racially integrated schools. Additionally, there is also a shortage of literacy experts who specifically focus on the literacy development of African American boys in the United States. In sum, BOYS College is designed to advance the literacy development of African American boys in reading and writing while simultaneously supporting parents, teachers, and administrators to do the same.
THE WORK WE DO
The U.S. continues to grapple with ways to move a large percentage of students from basic to proficient to advanced levels of reading by the time they enter fourth grade. In 2015, according to the Nation's Report Card, a meager 12% of 4th grade students read at an advanced level . More disappointingly, only 2% of African American boys were assessed to be reading at an advanced level. At eighth grade, only 5% of the nation's children were reading at an advanced level in 2015. African American boys were at 1%.
BOYS College is based on the premise that literacy is power and that young readers can experience exponential growth that leads to advanced levels of reading in the elementary grades when there is a combination of powerful literacy teaching and powerful texts. This will yield more advanced readers in grades 8 and 12 if students continue to receive powerful literacy instruction and powerful texts.
Therefore, BOYS College , grounded in more than 20 years of research, was designed as a research and community outreach initiative to move African American boys toward advanced levels of reading and writing while helping them become smarter about a wide range of texts across ten academic disciplines.
BOYS College was also designed to refocus literacy reforms toward advanced levels of reading and writing, instead of proficient levels of reading and writing, particularly for African American boys.
BOYS College is based on the premise that elementary-aged students benefit from more reading experiences across a wide range of texts across academic disciplines in a supportive instructional environment with teachers with a strong literacy background. Students receive academic and personal benefits from expert literacy teachers who have advanced knowledge about reading and writing, students and their identities, instructional contexts and texts. The critical component of BOYS College is preparing instructors with the knowledge and disposition to move students to advanced levels of reading and writing despite the students' starting point. Additionally, BOYS College instructors believe that all texts belong to all students, and they do not limit their text choices based on narrow views of students' identities. In order to carry out the work of BOYS College, instructors embrace that exponential growth is possible for struggling and non-struggling readers and writers in the same academic setting. They also embrace that it is their responsibility to study, learn, and teach from a wide range of texts across multiple academic disciplines. And, they embrace their role as reflective educators who review and analyze students' artifacts with the aim to provide additional supports if necessary and make shifts in their instructional practices, instructional contexts, and text choices.
BOYS College instructors support students to read and write across a minimum of two texts during each lesson. The texts are generally at or above their assigned grade level.
The instructors focus on students' reading, writing, intellectual and personal development during each lesson. They use a multidimensional reading model grounded in an interdisciplinary approach aimed to nurture students' social and scientific consciousness while supporting them to become excellent readers and writers.The ultimate goal of BOYS College is placing African American boys on a positive educational trajectory and path for success and leadership in school, life, and fields of study.
BOYS College is a research and community outreach initiative of the Reading Clinic at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
It was designed based on two decades of research focused on the reading and writing development of African American male adolescents and boys across multiple school and clinical settings throughout the U.S. BOYS College has a cadre of experts who provide professional development support to university students, teachers, school administrators, and parents who want to improve the reading and writing achievement of African American boys. The BOYS College team hosts an annual summer literacy institute in Chicago to provide direct reading and writing support to African American boys in grades 3, 4, and 5. Each of the experts has advanced teacher and research training, extensive experience implementing the BOYS College reading model in classrooms and clinical settings, and experience providing professional development support to teachers and administrators of elementary-aged students.