A UCLA study released Wednesday suggests that challenges facing Black students in Los Angeles County, which were already daunting, have been made even worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

The report examined the relationship between educational outcomes and social, health and environmental factors of Black students in 14 school districts, serving at least 800 Black students in the county.

Together, the districts serve more than two-thirds of Black students in the region. The findings spanned neighborhoods from the northern reaches of the Antelope Valley to Long Beach.

Detailing a shrinking and shifting Black student population long beset by low levels of academic achievement, the research makes clear that a disproportionate number of Black children in L.A. County reside in neighborhoods where poverty is concentrated, educational enrichment opportunities are limited, environmental hazards are severe, and resources are lacking.

In many of these communities, the challenges facing Black children in school are exacerbated by adverse environmental and social conditions related to concentrated poverty, impacting student learning, according to the report, titled “Beyond the Schoolhouse: Digging Deeper.”

Given the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 virus on low-income communities, the researchers contend that the challenges facing Black students have likely worsened.

“The impact of the global pandemic on the education of Black students may potentially be devastating,” said UCLA education professor Tyrone Howard, faculty director of the Center for the Transformation of Schools, which released the report. “This new research can inform the strategic use of resources to address inequalities, racism, and historical disadvantage, and guide decision making to better serve Black students.”

Howard said the long and persistent presence of systemic racism inside and outside of schools “continues to affect the educational experiences and outcomes of Black students. The report also offers examples of successful efforts and specific recommendations to assist educators and policymakers.”

The report includes a detailed table of funding made available to school districts by the recently passed federal American Rescue Plan. The 14 districts examined in the research are in line to receive $6 billion in COVID-19 relief funding to support learning recovery efforts.

“Our hope is that this research will generate intense attention on the needs of Black students in the county and spur innovative and meaningful actions to address the economic, social, emotional and environmental challenges that shape and hinder their educational opportunities,” said UCLA researcher Stanley Johnson Jr., lead author of the study, “We can and must act boldly.”

The report, which includes an interactive map of Black student educational outcomes, can be viewed at transformschools.ucla.edu/beyond-the-schoolhouse-digging-deeper.

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