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San Diego Unified Targets African-American Achievement

Audio

Aired 7/6/11

San Diego public school students are scoring higher on state English and math tests, but the achievement gap for African-American and Hispanic students persists. The school district is starting an effort focused specifically on improving African and African-American students’ school performance.

African and African-American students are more likely to be suspended or expelled from San Diego city schools than their peers. Just 78.7 percent graduate from high school, compared to the district’s average of 84.5 percent, and white students' graduation rate of 91.4 percent.

This fall the district will start implementing programs directed at turning those numbers around.

Principals will be responsible for reporting on the academic achievement of their African and African-American students and implementing school-specific plans to target those students' performance.

The plan also includes additional cultural proficiency training for district staff, creating parent centers at every school, creating college preparation programs that target African and African-American students, and piloting single-gender classrooms for certain subjects in one middle school for the coming year.

An outline of the initiative was originally drafted by the Association of African-American Educators. The organization’s former president, Wendall Bass, applauded taking on the persistent achievement gap, but said he doesn’t think it’ll be easy.

“If you think it’s going to happen overnight, it’s not," he said. "And we need to be committed over the years to make certain that our children are educated. And I’m so committed that I will give you no rest until we do something to close the gap.”

Creating programs focused on improving the achievement of one group of students is about more than closing the persistent achievement gap, according to Bill Kowba, the district's superintendent.

"We believe in elevating the performance for any one group of kids, we elevate for the entire district," he said.

Comments

Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 6, 2011 at 3:36 p.m. ― 2 years, 9 months ago

Improvement starts at home. Parents need to explain why their children need an education, why they need to learn, why they need to do what's right for themselves and the person next to them. The disconnect between parents and children is a main reason why kids go astray. It matters little of their racial background. In fact, we shouldn't focus so much on the racial issue as much as the lack of concern parents have as to how their kids do in school.

Children need to be taught to treat people with respect, go to school on time, complete your assignments, go to college, etc. This will help them in their career. They will then go to work on time, do the right thing, help people next to them and create synergy. I could go on, but it starts at home...Period!

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