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Efforts To Close Achievement Gap Target Black Students

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Aired 8/18/10

State Schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell releases annual state standardized test scores today. Local and state educators say they're trying more this year to help close the persistent achievement gap affecting black students.

— State Schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell releases annual state standardized test scores today. Local and state educators have received a couple of grants to help close the state’s persistent achievement gap affecting black students.

African Americans make up about 11 percent of the overall student body in the San Diego Unified School District. However, research shows they drop out and get suspended at high rates.

San Diego Unified is now trying to do more to reach out to black parents.

The district has a $50,000 grant for a program called Project Ujima in southeastern San Diego.

Parents get educated on everything from the importance of college to state standardized testing.

Beatrice Fernandez, a coordinator for San Diego Unified, says the district hasn't done a good enough job of reaching out to black families in a positive way.

“Parents decide to partner with school depending on how welcome they feel at the school. If (parents) are only getting negative messages from the school, that will create a sense of distrust from families,” Fernandez said.

The AVID program, a national college preparatory program based in San Diego, recently got a $250,000 grant to support a special program for black male students.

AVID's Maria Cobb says at-risk black boys are grouped together in one class. The class is led by an African-American male teacher.

“We have had some controversy, but we have these African-American males who are achieving so far below their counterparts that having a single-gender classroom, plus an all African-American classroom, is stepping out of the box,” Cobb said.

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