Friday, July 20, 2007

Educators, Citizens, Parents, and Leaders Commit to Helping Students and Improve Schools

This came to my in-box.

LITTLE ROCK—The Little Rock Classroom Teachers Association, an affiliate of the Arkansas Education Association, in partnership with business, civic, and community organizations will sponsor a citywide community conversation to talk about how the community can help close the achievement gaps among students in Little Rock Public Schools.

The conversation will be held on Monday, July 23, at Mosaic Church, 6420 Colonel Glenn Road. Mosaic Church is housed in the former Wal-Mart building. The event is free and will last from 5:30-9:00 p.m. Dinner will be served and the public and media are invited to attend.

The conversation, which is expected to draw hundreds of participants, is the first stage in an effort by the Little Rock community to develop a plan for supporting public schools, but more importantly, how parents, guardians, and other citizens can help schools work on closing the achievement gaps that exist between minority students and white students.

"We know and research has shown that much of what our students learn occurs outside of the classroom. In order to improve Little Rock public schools, it is going to take shared responsibility,” says Katherine Wright Knight, president of the Little Rock Classroom Teachers Association. "The community, along with elected officials, parents, and business leaders are all responsible for making sure that all children are successful.”

From 2004-2007, literacy and math scores for fourth grade students in Little Rock students were significantly lower than the statewide average. Similar declines happened for students in grades 3-8.

Scores are even lower among minority students. In fact, in 2007, 65 percent of Black students and 60 percent of Hispanic students were rated "Not Proficient” on statewide literacy exams, compared to white students. That same year, less than 30 percent of Little Rock's white students were rated "Not Proficient”.

Similar trends were found with math scores. Of the number of fourth grade students who took the statewide math test, 60 percent of Black students scored "Not Proficient”. The percentage of Hispanic students whose scores were "Not Proficient” was 50 percent, compared to 20 percent of white students.

”Any percentage of students, regardless of race, is not acceptable. Still, the gaps are too wide for us not to notice,” says Knight.

The conversation will feature national and local experts who work to close gaps in student achievement, in addition to, experts skilled in training communities to help support public schools.

For more information regarding the community conversation and to register, please contact the Little Rock Teachers Association at (501) 372-3519 or send an email to lrcta@comcast.net.

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