Report: “Alarming” gap in African American students’ achievement, discipline

An analysis of student behavioral and academic measures shows an “alarming” disproportionality among racial and ethnic groups, according to a report the Clarke County Board of Education is scheduled to see at the board’s Thursday work session.

 

“In particular, the performance data of African American students in the Clarke County School District is extremely concerning,” according to the report.

African American students are far more likely to be put into special education classes, or be suspended or expelled than white, Asian or Hispanic students, according to the report, which also outlines steps the school district’s administration plans to take to correct the discrepancies. Those plans include “maximizing the district’s urgency and diligence to improve academic performance” and “maximizing the implementation of a college and career readiness culture.”

The data shows “it is apparent that there is an immediate need for a clarion call to improve the results in the school district,” according to the report’s executive summary.

And the percentage of African American elementary and middle school students scoring “proficient” on the state’s standardized end-of-grade tests in math and English language arts is far below the district average. Hispanic students also lag on those measures, though not to the same degree as African American students, according to the report.

Just 17 percent of African American third- and fifth-graders scored proficient in English language arts in last spring’s testing, and just 17.7 percent in math. The proficiency rate in math for sixth- and eighth-grade African American students was 15.8 percent, and in English language arts, 14.6 percent.

Among Hispanic students, 28.8 percent were proficient in third- and fifth-grade language arts, and 36.3 percent in third- and fifth-grade math; 21.4 percent of sixth- and eighth-graders were proficient in English language arts and 27.7 percent in math.

The report also noted district-wide discrepancies in discipline and special education statistics.

The rates for white students are far higher — 68.4 percent proficiency in third- and fifth-grade language arts, for example, and 67.8 percent in third- and fifth-grade math.

Black students account for about 54 percent of the school district’s overall enrollment, but 68.6 percent of students with disabilities. Black students also account for 79.9 percent of discipline incidents, 83.2 percent of out-of-school suspensions and 74 percent of expulsions, according to the report.

The report also broke down the data by schools, most of which showed data consistent with the district-wide trends.

At Alps Road Elementary, where 78.4 percent of the students are black, 96.5 percent of the discipline incidents involved black students, for example.

At Barrow Elementary 38 percent of the students are black, but 74 percent of the special education students are black, and 84 percent of the out of school suspension days were for black students.

Just 10 percent of Barrow’s black third- and fifth-graders were proficient in English language arts and in math; versus 80 percent for white students in English language arts and 75.5 percent in math. About 64 percent of Barrow’s Hispanic students were proficient in math, and 71.4 percent in English language arts.

At Chase Street School, black students comprise 33.4 percent of the overall enrollment, but 52.7 percent of special education students and 66 percent of discipline incidents. Black students at Chase achieved a 13.5 percent proficiency rate in third- and fifth-grade English language arts, compared to 33.3 percent of Hispanic students and 92 percent of white students.

At Clarke Middle School, 11.7 percent of black students, 28 percent of Hispanic students and 76.1 percent of white students scored proficient in sixth- and eighth-grade English language arts. In math, the Clarke Middle proficiency rates were 13 percent among black students, 24.5 percent in Hispanic, and 72.2 percent in math.

At Cedar Shoals High School, 56 percent of the students were black, but black students incurred 91.7 percent of the out-of-school suspension days.

Most other schools showed similar patterns.

At some schools, the discrepancies were smaller. At Timothy Road Elementary, 36.3 percent of black children, 52.8 percent of Hispanic children and 72.7 percent of white children were proficient in English language arts. In math, the ratios were 37.3 percent of black children, 58 percent of Hispanic children and 74 percent of white children.

Barnett Shoals Elementary data showed academic differences consistent with district-wide numbers, but a reverse of the district-wide discipline patterns. Black students accounted for 51 percent of the total enrollment, and 31 percent of discipline incidents. White students were 26.6 percent of overall enrollment, but accounted for 49 percent of discipline incidents.

Follow Lee Shearer at www.facebook.com/LeeShearerABH or https://twitter.com/LeeShearer.

 

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