The Orange County Schools Board of Education had its first joint meeting with the Equity Task Force earlier this month to discuss new approaches to ensure that all students receive an equal education.
A presentation given by the school board’s Equity Task Force during the meeting revealed sizable inequities in the achievement gaps between economically disadvantaged and minority students and those who were white or do not have to deal with economic hardship.
Some of the data presented showed gaps between the percentage of students reading at their grade level between the third and eighth grades. Orange County Schools ranks 105th out of 115 districts when it comes to teaching their economically disadvantaged students to read at grade level, placing them in the bottom 10 percent statewide. For Hispanic students, they rank 110th — meaning 96 percent of school districts do a better job at teaching Hispanic students in this age group to read at their grade level.
In addition, Orange County Schools ranks in the bottom half for teaching Black students to read on grade level at this age. It also ranks in the bottom third for teaching students with disabilities, students in foster care, homeless students and those who are learning English.
For white students, however, Orange County Schools is in the top 25 percent of school districts at teaching these students to read at grade level. And for students who are not economically disadvantaged, it does better than 68 percent of school districts across North Carolina.