Academic Achievement Gap Growing

By: Angela Salerno
By: Angela Salerno

Educators said the academic achievement gap is a disheartening trend. They said the average 12th grade African-American student is grading out on a level equal to the average 8th grade white student.

Now one Leon County school is hoping to close that gap. African-American students are falling through the cracks according to the Nation's Report Card. Fifty percent of African-American males are scoring below grade level in reading, and 65 percent in math.

"They have not had the opportunity to learn to read and do the traveling and have exposure to the enriching kinds of opportunities," said Larry Thompson, Assistant Principal at Swift Creek Middle School.

The Booker T. Washington Consortium is trying to reach students like Roddrick Washington at Tallahassee's Swift Creek Middle School.

"We have teachers that are trying to help us out with our grades just in case we don't make it in sports in the future, so we have a backup plan," said Roddrick Washington, a student at Swift Creek.

The Young Black Male Discovery Project is trying to keep Washington and others like him focused. The after school program targets young black males who not only have low test scores, but have also had brushes with the law.

"We have analyzed our test scores to make sure that we are looking at the children who need the most support," said Alice Caswell, principal at Swift Creek.

The after school program teaches organizational skills, social etiquette and a sense of belonging.

"It's a very exciting time for them. I don't want them to feel like they are trapped into anything. They can do whatever they want to do," said Chris Harrison, who teaches the after school program.

The program kicked off last spring. Teachers said they are already seeing progress with their students.


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