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The Daily Tar Heel

New Committee Hopes to Boost Minority Plan

The new committee hopes to decrease the achievement gap among races by educating community members about an existing plan.

About 50 Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools staff members and parents involved with the minority achievement plan met Monday at Lincoln Center in Chapel Hill to discuss the introduction of a six-member steering committee.

Superintendent Neil Pedersen said the steering committee is designed to make sure the achievement gap is closed. "The steering committee will be a staff of community members," he said. "The outcome of the steering committee will be a stable roster of the Minority Student Achievement team."

The committee is expected to meet on the fourth Monday of every other month starting Sept. 23.

Meeting facilitator Nettie Collins-Hart said the committee is being created with the hope of increasing community members' understanding of the district's minority achievement plan. "The reason for the committee had to do with concern that teachers and community didn't know what was going on," she said.

At Monday's meeting, the original group finalized a schedule for next year, examined standardized test score results and started the selection of the steering committee.

Committee member Diane Villwock handed out printouts of the most recent school system test scores, which showed a breakdown in standardized test scores of white, black, Asian and Hispanic students from third grade to high school.

The report also outlined the school system's rank against other school systems in the state and the percent of proficient students, defined by the number of students at or above a state-deemed acceptable proficiency score.

The report stated that the average score for the 464 white third-grade students in the district was the 94th percentile in the reading and math composite, while the 134 black third-grade students scored only in the 50th percentile in reading and math. White third-graders ranked first in test scores in the state, while their black peers placed 39th.

Teresa Williams, the vice chairwoman of the school board, said she is especially concerned that black students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools are not performing as well as black students in other districts while local white students are performing better than average.

"It's a big issue, and we're trying to deal with it effectively."

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