Achievement Gap Hot Topic At Dist. 186 Meeting
Lanphier High School is in the final year of a three year grant to help students improve. Among the things they've done as part of the program is extending the school day and adding ACT practice exams and tutoring for students. However, board member Judy Johnson made Lanphier faculty bristle when she questioned why math scores dropped, while the scores for white students improved during a recent school board meeting. After one faculty member said she was offended by the insinuation staff was not working hard enough, Johnson replied, "If you are offended that might mean that maybe you need to work a little harder." Faculty left the podium they were presenting at immediately after the comment.
School board member Scott McFarland's district includes Lanphier. He says the achievement gap isn't isolated to that school alone: "This is across the board, it's not just Lanphier. We have a big difference between white students and black students in terms of all test taking, it's not just Lanphier. Until we start tracking these students from 9th grade ... to 12th grade, which is what we're going to start doing - these scores here mean little to nothing." Lanphier is charged with putting together a plan that will continue to implement some of the changes brought on by the grant, even after it runs out at the end of the school year.
Interim Superintendent Bob Leming says he is sympathetic to Johnson's concerns, but faculty is already honed in on the issue. "We take the achievement gap very seriously. Every school in this district looks at that - targets that, provides interventions for that, and we do the best we can with that," he said. Members of the public and some board members say the gap is a district-wide problem that deserves further inspection.