Possessing a doctor of education in the field of educational leadership, Eric Becoats has dedicated more than two decades to academia, serving predominantly in administrative capacities. Eric Becoats is an Assistant Superintendent and leads a team of 15 principals in The School District of Philadelphia to improve outcomes for students in grades K-12.
At the end of 2015, the United States Department of Education released a statement regarding the progress of graduation rates. Preliminary data from the National Center for Education Statistics indicated improvement in the number of high school graduates from the 2012-2013 to the 2013-2014 school years. In fact, March showed the highest rate of 81 percent. The number took into account students from all subgroups, including pupils of minority, low-income, and non-native English speaking backgrounds as well as those living with a disability, some of whom Eric Becoats has worked with.
The Department of Education also highlighted the accomplishment of five particular states, including Illinois and Oregon, achieving the most gains. In total, 36 states successfully improved graduation rates. The US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan commented on the feat, acknowledging that educators and communities as well as families played a significant role in attaining the results.
Dr. Eric Becoats serves as an assistant superintendent in the Philadelphia School District in Pennsylvania. His career includes administrative positions in public school districts in several other states. Before his Philadelphia appointment, he served as interim executive director of the Illinois-based charter school network Distinctive Schools. There, Eric Becoats made policy recommendations to guide the programming and growth of the non-profit organization, which supports charter schools for students from underserved backgrounds.
Headquartered in Chicago, Distinctive Schools has four charter schools in that city, another in Rockford, Illinois, and a sixth recently opened in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Charter schools are public schools that are privately run but publicly funded, typically by local school districts. They have greater flexibility than do traditional schools, but with this flexibility in curriculum, textbook choice, and student policies comes greater accountability for academic outcomes.
Charter schools must follow state and federal standards for academic achievement, and must demonstrate this achievement through student testing. They must also show responsibility in other areas – financial management and organizational stability — specified in their charters.
Distinctive Schools, dedicated to helping students in urban communities succeed, meets these requirements through its educational approach, which incorporates individual learning paths to help its largely minority K-8 students achieve academic and personal success.
Educational leader Eric Becoats is an assistant superintendent with The School District of Philadelphia, where he works to turn around low student performance at district schools. To accomplish his mission, Eric Becoats establishes community partnerships to support achievement in the classroom and beyond.
It is a well-established fact in educational circles that community and family involvement in schools has a significant impact on student achievement and dropout rates. Research has demonstrated that students whose parents are involved in their education enjoy higher rates of postsecondary education, higher self-esteem, more positive relationships with their peers, and higher attendance rates. Connecting community activities with classroom learning also has been shown to reduce suspension rates and improve academic performance.
Community partnerships with schools take a number of forms, including wraparound community and social programs designed to improve the social and physical health of students. Community-based organizations such as after-school care programs and mentorship services reinforce concepts learned in the classroom and help students make the most of their learning opportunities.
As founder and chief executive officer of The Becoats Foundation, Eric Becoats has implemented the African-American Male Initiative to promote achievement within this population. Eric Becoats has also worked toward this goal as developer of The Brotherhood Initiative, which he implemented while serving in the Guilford County school system of North Carolina.
According to recent data, young African-American men are at risk across multiple areas of academic achievement. They have a 250 percent lower rate of enrollment in gifted programs, regardless of previous academic record, and receive suspension three times more often than their White classmates. This lost education time can seriously impact achievement. In fact, less than 50 percent of African-American boys receive their high school diplomas on time.
To close this gap, experts suggest, school systems need to develop and implement culturally sensitive solutions. Successful administrators have found that these solutions focus less on academic metrics and more on personal solutions, as the underlying problems lie in affect and emotional response rather than in capability. Students need supportive and caring adults that inundate them with positive messages, as well as active connections to communities that stand behind them.
In the classroom, African-American boys need education that is relevant to their cultural backgrounds and experiences. For some schools, this may mean integrating materials that actively fight against biases and stereotypes. Students also need teachers who believe in their abilities and challenge them to reach their potential, while supporting them as they struggle with potential past traumas.
Image: Norwin School District STEM Education
Recently named the assistant superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, Eric Becoats is also the founder and CEO of the Becoats Foundation. In this capacity, Eric Becoats has nurtured community partnerships to bring STEM education and other programs to a diverse population of learners.
A wide disparity currently exists in levels of achievement for white versus minority students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. While 75 percent of white 12th-graders scored “Basic” or better on a recent National Assessment of Educational Progress exam, only 45 percent of Latinos and 36 percent of black students achieved the same scores. However, recent research has shown that improving accessibility and instruction delivery can help to close that gap and improve performance for a diverse student cohort.
One of the most important of such adaptations is improved access and exposure to STEM activities, followed by continuing support for those who display an interest. Relevance also stands out as a key factor, because students are more likely to respond to instruction that connects to their real-life experiences. For a diverse student body, relevant instruction must link in some way to students’ cultural backgrounds and experiences. Content should be student-focused and also apply concepts to practical problems, so that students can begin to self-identify as scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.