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Schools study minority learning gap

Local schools are examining a national study on the racial and ethnic achievement gap.

They hope to apply the study locally to close the grade-gap among racial and ethnic minorities such as blacks, Latinos, Asians and American Indians.

All these minorities are well represented in Central Kitsap schools — partly due to rapid turnover of military families. The national study also compares minority performance to whites. The local study will do the same.

The district received the first of three parts of the study early this month. It was presented by Dr. Janell Newman, executive director of curriculum and instruction.

The name of the national study is “Achievement in America 2001.” Parts two and three will be presented Sept. 25 and Oct. 9, and are subtitled “What do we know about student achievement?” and “What do we know about improving results?” Part one is dubbed “How many students make it through?”

“The gap isn’t everywhere,” Newman said. She hopes CKSD can learn from districts that defied the gap, and enable local students to excel across-the-board. Many local officials say the key is intense academic coaching. Several coaches were hired this year.

“The Elementary and Secondary Education Act requires clear attention to ensuring we meet the educational needs of all children,” said Newman. “Beginning to understand the achievement gap in America, Washington state and CKSD is a first step in addressing this challenge.”

To utilize the study locally, the student body will be “disaggregated” or separated by minorities.

(This is done on paper for statistical reasons. Disaggregation is not desegregation, the physical act of separating students based on race or ethnicity, officials said.)

The national study showed interesting trends — many reflected locally:

• Graduation rates for all students in the United States have remained flat over the past decade — hovering around 85 to 86 percent between 1990 and 1998.

• More students now graduate traditionally — 75 percent in 1990, 80 percent in 1998. Many of the remaining 18- to 24-year-olds earned GEDs.

• By race or ethnicity, students graduate from high school at different rates — blacks, 87 percent; Asians, 94 percent; Latinos, 62 percent; whites, 91 percent.

• Most high school grads, 75 percent, go on to college — 26 percent enter two-year institutions; 45 percent, four-year universities; 4 percent, other post-secondary schools.

• But low-income students attend college at lower rates — low income, low achievers, 36 percent; high income, low achievers, 77 percent. Low income, high achievers, 78 percent; high achievers, high income, 97 percent.

(Newman pointed out that because the same percentage of high-income low achievers and low-income high achievers went to college, it’s “income” that holds kids back.)

• College freshmen graduating within six years — blacks, 39 percent; Asians, 65 percent; Latino, 46 percent; American Indian, 37 percent; whites, 59 percent.

• Every 100 white kindergartners — 91 graduate from high school; 62 get some college; 30 obtain at least a bachelor’s degree. Every 100 black kindergartners — 87 graduate from HS; 54 complete some college; 16 earn a bachelor’s degree. Every 100 Latino kindergartners — 62 graduate HS; 29 get some college; 6 earn bachelor’s. Every 100 Asian kindergartners — 94 graduate HS; 80 get some college; 49 earn bachelor’s. Every 100 American Indian kindergartners — 58 graduate from HS; 7 earn bachelor’s.

• Black and Latino 17-year-olds are at the same level in math as white 13-year-olds.

• Overall, the national study seemed to indicate Asians routinely did slightly better than whites, whites did a little better than blacks; and Asians, whites and blacks all did significantly better than Latinos.

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