Naperville’s District 204 Faces the Achievement Gap

Earlier this year, PARCC Assessment results showed high achievement levels in 204, however they also shed light on a significant achievement gap.

In a recent workshop the Board started discussions on how to close the gap.

The special meeting focused on the disconnect between the curriculum and African American students as opposed to their peers.

Only 31% of African American students scored as proficient in English Language Arts, and only 25% in math – that’s compared to 60% of white students and 76% of Asians reporting proficiently in ELA and 57% of white and 82% of Asian students, doing the same in math.

Though there is no specific strategy in place for struggling students, each school in the district has a set of guidelines and various enrichment programs. Administrators shared how when implemented they can help close the gap one student at a time.

“We even have had success stories where we’ve had students, and even students of color being offered admissions to very prestigious schools like Harvard right on the spot because of the outreach we are doing. So we know that these are some of the stories that our data isn’t showing but we know that’s happening because of what the research suggests that we continue to make those opportunities available to our students,” said Superintendent of Teaching and Learning at District 204, Louis Lee.

While board members applauded the accomplishments of the individual students they felt the group should focus on a broader approach backed up by numbers.

“What I am hearing is that there are a number of individual activities that we are doing that clearly are bearing fruit but it’s a little here and a little there. What we’re attempting to do is have proof points with data and that it is working and it’s working for a large swath of our students and not just here and there,” said District 204 Board Member, Dr. Maria Curry.

President of the DuPage NAACP, Veretta Yancey, agreed with board members, saying concrete data needs to be collected. However, she had concerns about who would be asked to the table to solve the problem.

“If the school has a predominately white administration and staff and they are using that same staff to put programs together for people of color, there is still a disconnect. And so I am pleased, if I did hear it right that they will be bringing parents and community leaders to help make the programs,” she said.

Both administration and the board say this is the first step in a long journey.

Naperville News 17’s Natalie Vitale Reports.

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