Monday, June 25, 2007

Fayette County program would target racial learning gap


African-American males nationwide are three times as likely as white males to be in a special needs class, but only half as likely to be placed in a class for gifted, high-achieving students, according to national trends.

This racial disparity has long plagued Fayette County schools and is the driving force behind the district's plans to start a pilot program that would address the issue.

The initiative, the first of its kind in a public school statewide, is expected to place 20 African-American boys, based on a preschool test, in a special kindergarten class with a rigorous curriculum that will focus on critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. The students would remain together through the second grade, when they would be tested for placement in the district's gifted and talented program. The class could be taught all three years by a teacher from the gifted and talented program who would work with an assistant instructor and a speech pathologist.

...Kati Haycock, president of Education Trust, a national organization that focuses on issues related to the achievement gap, said more and more districts are mounting programs to address students with untapped potential. She said the plan to separate the boys could be a way for districts nationwide to address the issue.

"It's not like we're doing so well by these kids in any other settings," she said.

This from the Herald-Leader.

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