New task force being formed to close the achievement gap for African-American students

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The Dallas Independent School District is forming a task force aimed at enhancing steps the district is currently taking to close the achievement gap for African-American students.

Board of Trustees First Vice President Lew Blackburn will lead a group that will review progress made under the district’s African-American Success Initiative and explore ways to improve its outcomes. The task force announcement was made as part of a presentation on the initiative during today’s monthly Board Briefing.

“I look forward to exploring ways to improve academic achievement for our African-American students,” said Dr. Blackburn. “It is incumbent upon all of us, not just trustees and the administration, to work together to best prepare these young men and women for the future.”

“It is necessary that we take a hard look at this initiative and have a serious conversation about what additional support we can provide to our African-American students,” said Miguel Solis, president of the Board of Trustees during the briefing. “We need to know where the initiative has been successful and where are we not getting it right. We believe the next course of action for the African-American Success Initiative is to ensure we get it right system-wide.”

The African-American Success Initiative, launched in 2006, is focused on closing the achievement gap between Anglo and African-American students, a group that comprises approximately 23 percent of the district’s total enrollment. The effort was initially focused on mathematics but has since been expanded to include reading, college and career readiness, and student advocacy. According to the presentation, passing rates on both the STAAR and End of Course Exams have improved for some African-Americans in eight Dallas ISD feeder patterns.

Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles said it will take more than financial support and programs to boost performance for African-American students.

“There is already some very good work being done with this initiative but there is much more that we can do,” said Miles. “This task force, along with our efforts to improve the effectiveness of every teacher in the district through the Teacher Excellence Initiative, represent positive steps forward that will enable us to close the achievement gap.”

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