When Black Students Excel

How Schools Can Engage and Empower Black Students


Engage your school in a year-long conversation focused on engaging and empowering students of color.

Engage your school’s team or your district’s team in regular book studies focused upon the book’s chapters.

Opportunities to interact with principals and teachers from the schools featured in the book.

Opportunities for your team to share insights about the book.

Opportunities for your team to pose questions to leaders and educators from the featured schools and the book’s authors.

Opportunities to discuss the book’s implications for your school or district.



Join the Book Study Series that Includes Educators from Around the Nation
Join a series of 10 virtual sessions (starting November 28th, 2022).
After a general overview session, there will be a session every three weeks focusing on one of the book’s chapters.
Participating schools and districts can attend the sessions at the designated times or view recorded sessions at their discretion.
Low rates based upon the number of participants from your school or district.
The school district will receive an autographed paperback copy of When Black Students Excel for each participant. As well, each participant will be able to attend all 10 book study sessions. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to view recorded sessions at their discretion.
1-20 participants 
$200 per participant
20+ participants
$180 per participant


Request a Book Study Series Tailored Specifically to
Your District
We will schedule 10 virtual sessions (starting in November 2022) at dates and times that work best for your district.
Educators within your district can attend the sessions at the designated times or view recorded sessions.
Your district leaders can play a role in shaping the beginning and/or ending of each virtual session.
Rates start at $18,000 for 100 autographed paperback copies and 100 participants who can attend sessions throughout the year.
NCUST can support a limited number of book studies tailored for districts. We will accommodate districts on a first-come, first-served basis.
100 participants
$18,000 for 100 autographed paperback copies and 100 participants who can attend sessions throughout the year.
Additional participants
An additional $80 per participant (beyond 100 participants)



When Black Students Excel

When Black Students Excel focuses upon six public schools that have won NCUST’s America’s Best Urban Schools Award. At all six of these schools, Black students (as well as every other demographic group of students) achieve impressive academic successes on multiple indicators, often outperforming the overall academic performance of all students in their state. When Black Students Excel includes case studies of each of these six schools and explores the factors that have influenced their success.

When Black Students Excel offers real-life examples of outstanding schools that serve elementary, middle, and high school students where teachers and school leaders have rejected policies and practices built upon deficit perceptions about the capacity of Black students. Chapters highlight leadership implications and offer specific suggestions for educators who are seeking to transform their schools in ways that advance the success of Black students. This practical guide includes questions to ask students and their parents, self-assessment tools, and an array of leadership and teaching practices that can elevate school attendance and academic engagement, empower students, and improve other important outcomes for Black students, as well as other groups who have historically been underserved.

Unpacking important themes that influence the success of Black students, this book is a useful tool for educators who are seeking to understand how they can change programs, procedures, and practices in ways that engage and empower Black students.


When Black Students Excel is the book I have been waiting on for over 30 years. Finally, a book that sheds the deficit narrative about Black children and provides a blueprint for schools who serve these students. Black children are brilliant, and this book provides the type of insight that will allow any sincere educator to bring this brilliance to the surface. Bravo!”

–Anthony Muhammad, author of Transforming School Culture and Overcoming the Achievement Gap Trap, among others.


“At long last, a timely book from Joe Johnson and his NCUST colleagues on what works, not only in moving the needle on black student performance, but also in getting results for all historically underserved students. Examples of urban schools in different parts of the country that are beating the odds in measurable ways are the meat and potatoes of this long overdue volume which celebrates black student excellence throughout. As someone who has served as superintendent of two large urban systems, a state board of education member, and a founding executive director of a state educational agency, I could have used this practical guide to improving student performance many years ago, but I now celebrate the fact that it’s finally here! Thank you, NCUST!”

–Carl Cohn, Former Superintendent of Long Beach Unified School District, Former Director of the California Commission on Educational Excellence


“When Black Students Excel is a must-read for every educator and policy maker. The educators in this book clearly understand that if our schools are not successful, it is not the fault of the students but the adults. The foundation of this democratic nation is based on the promise that all citizens have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The caste system in education makes mockery of this promise to Black students. When Black Students Excel illustrates the possibility of excellence for all regardless of their life circumstances.”

–Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D., California Secretary of State


All three authors are experienced researchers who have visited and studied schools where all demographic groups excel. In addition to observing classrooms and interviewing teachers, students, parents, and administrators in the featured schools, these authors have studied many other high-performing urban schools throughout the nation.

Joseph F. Johnson Jr., Ph.D.
Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D.
Founding Executive Director, National Center for Urban School Transformation at San Diego State University

Joseph Johnson was the founding executive director of the National Center for Urban School Transformation at San Diego State University. He has served as a teacher, school administrator, district administrator, state-level administrator in Texas and Ohio, and as the director of the federal Title I program for the U.S. Department of Education. In higher education, Dr. Johnson has served as a professor of educational leadership, as dean of the college of education, and as interim provost and senior vice president at San Diego State University. His research focuses upon schools that achieve remarkable academic results for diverse populations of students. He is also an author of Leadership in America’s Best Urban Schools and Five Practices for Improving the Success of Latino Students: A Practical Guide for Secondary School Leaders.

Cynthia Uline
Cynthia L. Uline, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Educational Leadership, San Diego State University

Cynthia L. Uline is Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University. Cynthia served as Director of SDSU’s National Center for the 21st Century Schoolhouse from 2005 to 2017. She has also served as a teacher, teacher leader, and a state education agency administrator. Dr. Uline’s research explores the influence of built learning environments on students’ learning, as well as the roles leaders, teachers, students, and the public play in shaping learning spaces. Her current research considers the potential of green schools as student-centered, ecologically responsive, and economically viable places for learning. She has also published journal articles, books, and book chapters related to leadership for learning, leadership preparation, and schools that achieve remarkable academic results for diverse populations of students. Her latest book, co-authored with Lisa A.W. Kensler, is entitled, A Practical Guide for Leading green Schools: Partnering with Nature to Create Vibrant, Flourishing Sustainable Schools. She is also an author of Leadership in America’s Best Urban Schools.

Stanley Munro
Stanley J. Munro, Jr., Ed.D.
Executive Coach & Superintendent in Residence, National Center for Urban School Transformation at San Diego State University

Stanley Munro is an executive coach with the National Center for Urban School Transformation at San Diego State University. He has served as a curriculum writer, teacher, job-embedded mathematics professional developer, principal, executive director, and superintendent. During his career, Dr. Munro’s most important work has been that of a student advocate. All children have the right to maximize their greatest potential and every person on a campus has the responsibility to ensure that scholars know that they are valued in the school community and in the world at large. Dr. Munro is committed to equipping each student with the 21st century job skills that higher education requires, and the global workforce will demand in order to prepare our students for jobs that don’t exist yet with technology that has not been invented yet, to solve problems that have not occurred yet.

Concourse Village Elementary School
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