Wake County Schools

Wake schools tackle achievement gap at community summit

Posted February 5, 2011

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— Research shows that white students in the Wake County Public School System outperform black students year after year, creating an achievement gap that's concerning for parents and educators.

According to the state's Department of Public Instruction, nearly 90 percent of white students in the county graduate high school, but only 64 percent of black students do.

High schools in Wake County administer End-of-Course Tests to measure proficiency in certain subject areas. At Enloe High School in Raleigh, for example, at least 90 percent or more of white students earned proficient scores on course-end English, algebra and biology tests.

About 75 percent of black students were proficient in English, but just 57 percent were proficient in biology and 36 percent in algebra.

On Saturday, the school system hosted a summit at Enloe on closing the achievement gap in Wake County.

To round out his first week on the job, Wake superintendent Tony Tata offered insight to the problem, and potential solutions to boosting student achievement.

"I want to really understand the context of what is happening here in Wake County, so I can make the best decisions as I lead this school district going forward," Tata said.

Tata has said that increasing student achievement and preparing students to compete in a global economy are his top priorities as superintendent.

tata at enloe Community brainstorms boosting achievement at Enloe High

The school system has an advisory committee in place that meets four times a year to review progress and looks at research-based practices in closing achievement gaps.

Saturday's conference at Enloe was organized by the school district to include parents and community members in the conversation about student achievement.

"The conversation, the information, the knowledge for the community of parents is the big initial step," said Eddie Harden, assistant principal at the high school.

Attendees offered a range of suggestions to tackle the problem: smaller class sizes, quality teachers, increased mentoring and tutoring programs. Tata praised one speaker's recommendation that struggling students should be pushed harder to succeed and that high expectations should be maintained for low-performing and high-performing students across the board.

"We need to make sure they have that same ethos," Tata said. "That they have the same culture of high expectations and (that we're) not pre-judging students."

School board member Keith Sutton had a similar message for parents and community members who attended the summit: "that it takes a focused effort, that it takes resources to help close the gap, because the achievement of all students is what's important."

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  • pamslaff Feb 7, 2011

    Low income doesnt mean you cant learn. If you live in a "good area" or a "poor area" doesnt really matter. What matters is parental involvement and responsibility for their children. It is not for the schools to be a "parent" to your children. Every parent should be aware of the life of Ben Carson and follow his mother's beliefs. Inner city schools, like "suburbia" will have outstanding schools. It is the parents that must insist that education be #1 priority in their childs' life. Sending children far from their base school actually isolates them anyway. It is more difficult for parents to be involved in school activities and parent/teacher meetings, and afterschool activities. Look the present system hasnt risen any test scores. It doesnt matter where"johnny" attends school but, it does matter that Johnny's parents are involved in his life, encouraging him/her to do better.

  • wakemom Feb 7, 2011

    how do they pick who to attend these meetings? i didnt hear of such meeting until after the fact.

  • wakemom Feb 7, 2011

    It might help if the student achievement gap were looked at as having many complex moving parts rather than as a monolithic one-problem-one-answer challenge. Not all black children are poor. Not all poor children are black. Not all Hispanic children have low IQs or poor language skills. Not all Asian children are good at math. Not all white children of affluent homes are well-behaved and motivated. Some economic problems at home are new (unemployment) and not part of a lifetime of Welfare dependency.

    Whatever we do, we can't punish the children to get at the root problem in the home. Somehow, we have to find a way to give all children a sense of empowerment over their sometimes disadvantaged lives. Creating more harm for these kids cannot be part of the solution, no matter how temporary it is.

    Teachers don't have the luxury of saying "It's out of my control." The taxpayer, parents, administrators, business leaders, and a host of others expect that student to excel and for the teache

  • chevybelair57sd Feb 7, 2011

    Funny PorkChop didn't mention this fact when argueing for the status quo on TV. So much for how good diversity effects the minorities learning. When will all these education experts realize without a family supporting and pushing a student, the schools can't suceed.

  • kimandwill89 Feb 7, 2011

    Children need a few very important things in order to become a productive adult. The most modern buildings and the best school district in the world cannot provide them. Parental supervision along with nutritional, academic and emotional support. No government or school can provide this. If a parent wants their child to live above the poverty level, it is solely up to them to make it happen.

  • PurlsOfWisdom Feb 7, 2011

    It might help if the student achievement gap were looked at as having many complex moving parts rather than as a monolithic one-problem-one-answer challenge. Not all black children are poor. Not all poor children are black. Not all Hispanic children have low IQs or poor language skills. Not all Asian children are good at math. Not all white children of affluent homes are well-behaved and motivated. Some economic problems at home are new (unemployment) and not part of a lifetime of Welfare dependency.

    Whatever we do, we can't punish the children to get at the root problem in the home. Somehow, we have to find a way to give all children a sense of empowerment over their sometimes disadvantaged lives. Creating more harm for these kids cannot be part of the solution, no matter how temporary it is.

    Teachers don't have the luxury of saying "It's out of my control." The taxpayer, parents, administrators, business leaders, and a host of others expect that student to excel and for the teache

  • bigbadbill Feb 7, 2011

    Perhaps we need to hire another "expert", or perhaps find some "consulting" firm with high paid PhD.s to analyze this ad infinitum. We could build a new office building at taxpayer expense to put them in so they could impute their wisdom upon us via a high-speed T1 connection. Or perhaps...we could realize that much like "Realthoughts" mentioned these are largely home-life issues that we cannot control.

  • XLAW Feb 7, 2011

    Are there any proven national programs to require parental involvement in education? Except in rare cases, unless the parent is involved and motivated in education the child will not be involved and motivated. Desire and motivation must come from the home and if it's lacking there is very little a school can do. With so many unmarried teenage pregnancies - children having children - and reliance on welfare and entitlements - respect for education and its benefits does not reach the population who need it the most.

  • mcoupe Feb 7, 2011

    I agee jdupree . The NAACP should spend its money on educating the parents and providing them with resources to be involved with their children instead of complaining about how they always are being treated unfair. The busing didnt fix the issue so that leaves only one thing it could be.....!

  • jdupree Feb 7, 2011

    Obviously the diversity policy used until now was a failure. Until the parents of the non-performing children have an interest in education, conduct and attendance things will not improve. Entitlements of the parents/students should be tied to attendance, conduct and performance to ability. Pocketbook issues usually get attention. I grew up near Fort Bragg and when a child of a serviceman was a problem at school, there was a base contact who got in touch with the serviceman's commanding officer. The problems with the child were resolved quickly most of the time. I am sure the Captain had a comming to Jesus meeting with the parent and as we all know, waste flows downhill. Many of these parents will claim they are single parents, don't have transportation, etc. but they manage to do the things they are motivated to do. What we have is a lack of motivation or valuation of education. MAKE IT A POCKETBOOK ISSUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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