Duluth Schools Toss Around Ideas To Address Achievement Gap, Including Reform, Year-Round Schooling

By KBJR News 1

October 11, 2011 Updated Oct 11, 2011 at 9:29 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - From focusing on core subjects to tailoring teaching to individual needs, Duluth school board members discussed ways of solving the district's achievement gap Tuesday.

Adequate Yearly Progress reports under "No Child Left Behind" continue to show disparity among minority and low-income students.

The reports are based on four areas of success.

Adequate Yearly Progress reports are based on participation, proficiency, attendance, and graduation rates, and Duluth as a district was listed as not making progress fast enough.

Progress varies between Duluth's schools and differing demographics, but as a district in reading, math, and science, Duluth scores were less than the state average this year.

There were not only ideas to address the achievement gap, but the overall student population as well.

Superintendent Dr. I.V. Foster said continuous improvement, focusing on core subjects like math, reading and science, as well as working with community partners could help.

To address the gap, the continuation of integration specialists, tailoring teaching so it's culturally relevant, and targeting low achieving schools were some ideas.

Dr. Foster said regardless of curriculum, teachers can be one of the biggest factors in student success.

"Strategies and effective teachers are the ones who really make the difference, so we have to first focus on improving the quality of instruction and giving teachers the type of resources and strategies that they can use," said Dr. Foster.

Dr. Foster spoke about continuing many current strategies to close the gap, such as using data coaches, as long as they appear to be working.

Reform of how teaching is done, as well as year-round schooling were also ideas up for discussion.

Minnesota had applied for a waiver from "No Child Left Behind". If Minnesota is granted the waiver, educators expect it would be in effect some time next year, but a granted waiver doesn't mean testing would end.

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