May 4, 2006
Closing the achievement gap in Charlottesville City Schools must start outside the schools, and in the community. That was the message the city school board heard Thursday night.
For the past year, the city schools has held forums in which members of the community could discuss how to close the achievement gap. A committee member reported that hundreds of residents showed up at these forums.
From the forums, the committee found that Charlottesville as a community needs to promote diversity. Programs within the school, like tutoring and mentoring, must also include students from all kinds of backgrounds.
At the forums, people were randomly assigned to small groups, and it was in those groups, according to one committee member, that some of the most open and honest discussion happened.
"By randomly assigning, they had to go be with other people that they would normally not see or not be with. And I think that that was one of the best things we could have done--to allow that kind of process to occur where different people, from different neighborhoods, and different jobs, and different socio-economic status got to talk to each other," said committee member Cindy Stratton.
The committee also looked at other communities that have made progress in closing the achievement gap. Many of the forums involved elected officials, the chamber of commerce, as well as parents and teachers.
It is now up to the school board to take the recommendations, and begin using them to close the achievement gap in the city schools. To read more about the recommendations on closing the achievement gap, you can check out the school board meeting minutes at www.ccs.k12.va.us/schoolboardminutes.