Third grade is the point at which students stop merely learning to read and begin reading to learn. It can be a critical milestone in a student’s career, which is why looking at reading scores for third graders in Berkeley Unified is a good illustration of the divide between the district’s white and black students when it comes to performance on standardized tests.
Last year, 43 percent of BUSD’s third graders received proficient or better scores on the state’s reading and writing tests. By comparison, 89 percent of white students scored proficient or better on the same tests.
To deal with this problem, Berkeley Unified School District is forming a working group charged with figuring out how to improve academic performance for the district’s black students. Berkeley Schools Report has a good summary of the item on the agenda for Wednesday’s school board meeting, including video from a December meeting when the board discussed the working group.
Here’s the timeline and the tasks proposed for the group:
Consultants work with Berkeley Evaluation and Assessment Office to select and present District and State data for the Work Group to review.
Consultants present national research regarding best practices, and using data, identify other districts that have achieved positive results for African-American students, noting the strategies they have implemented.
Consultants and Work Group establish protocols for site visits and visit schools in BUSD to observe teaching and learning.
Consultants interview African-American students and parents as well as teachers and staff.
Consultants and Work Group review input from 2012 community meetings regarding parent engagement.
Consultants and Work Group identify the key strategies that will be the core of the 2013-14 plan and how their effectiveness will be measured.
Work Group and other administrators solicit feedback on a draft of the plan from selected School Governance Councils.
Consultants hold a community forum to solicit feedback.
Consultants and Work Group review and revise the plan as needed.
Co-Superintendents submit the plan to the Board for approval.
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