Thanks to helpful volunteers, we have populated this survey with feedback from the October 23 Community Forum on Equity. You can read previous responses, contribute new ones, "like" ideas, and respond to others' contributions.
For further information about these topics at Charlottesville City Schools, visit charlottesvilleschools.org/NYT.
We hope you'll join us at the second Community Forum on Equity on Tuesday, November 27 at 7:30pm at Charlottesville High School.
Information about Achievement Gap
In 2016 Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education first published a national data set of K-12 standardized test scores. One conclusion of the review suggests that while the achievement gap is an enduring national problem, it is acutely apparent in many college towns. And like school divisions in Berkeley, Chapel Hill, and Ann Arbor, we have been vigorously working to implement best practices and innovate new solutions. Like those other school divisions, we have seen progress but still have goals to accomplish. For an overview of our efforts, please visit charlottesvilleschoools.org/equity.
The Stanford researchers discuss the “complex relationships between schooling and non-schooling factors that might affect achievement gaps.” For further information, see their article, The Geography of Racial/Ethnic Test Score Gaps.
Information about Advanced Course Enrollment
We are not yet where we want to be in seeing diverse enrollment in advanced classes, AP classes, and Dual Enrollment classes. However, we have seen gains in honors, dual enrollment, and AP enrollment from 2015-16 to 2017-18 for our African-American students, with black students’ participation in honors classes up 29 percent (even excluding enrollment in honors-option classes). We attribute this trend to a number of factors, including our locally-developed strategy of honors-option classes and our strong AVID program (which prepares students for college success).
In addition, CHS has redesigned its process for teachers making course recommendations; the new process gives students greater agency in goal-setting so that the student and teacher can work together to prepare for success in the next year’s chosen courses.
Information about the Gifted Program (QUEST)
We would like to state the obvious: that giftedness is distributed equally among all groups, and when we, like other school divisions, fail to identify and nurture all expressions of giftedness, it is a loss to our entire community.
No identification process will ever be perfect, so aside from students who are identified for gifted services, a pool of high-potential students from traditionally underserved groups also receives QUEST services. In addition, in recent years, pull-out services are only part of our efforts; the program relies on a model of collaboration between the QUEST teacher and classroom teachers. Our gifted teachers also do push-in instruction with small groups and the whole class so that all Charlottesville City Schools students benefit from access to the QUEST teachers and the instructional strategies that they offer.
As for the identification process itself, referrals and identification for the program are continuous; the division uses multiple criteria and a variety of screening methods to facilitate equitable consideration of students. The VA Department of Education’s 2017 report “Increasing Diversity in Gifted Education Programs in Virginia” references several of our practices because they recognized the innovative and inclusive intent of our processes. Even so, until our QUEST program reflects the full range of giftedness in our community, we will continue to seek out and create new solutions and approaches.
Information about Hiring/Supporting Teachers of Color
At Charlottesville City Schools, we actively recruit minority teachers and staff to better reflect our diverse student body. For example, we partner with the University of Virginia’s African American Teaching Fellows program and recruit at HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).
Among our teaching staff, 16 percent are presently people of color (with 11 percent being African American). Among our entire staff, 25 percent are presently people of color (with 22 percent being African American).
The diversity of our teaching staff lags slightly below the metro area’s demographics:
Our staff — and shown here, our teachers — do not mirror the diversity of our student population, a much more challenging goal given that most of our applicants and employees live within the metro area:
Information about Standards of Learning Tests
As we make clear with every announcement of accreditation and Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores, we – along with our peers across the state – have reservations about the SOL tests and what they do and do not measure. The state’s Standards of Learning tests are an easy way to get a point-in-time snapshot of whether a a student met a specific threshold, but these tests are criticized for their frequent changes in content and format and their inability to measure a student’s growth. They are a point-in-time measure of a cohort’s knowledge on a series of disparate exams.
Do we take SOL scores seriously? Of course. They are an important state measure, and they also point out the disparities that we need to address for our students of color and our students who face economic disadvantages.
Due to the diagnostic limitations of the SOL tests, however, we have spent several years surveying and testing nationally accepted instruments that are more helpful in guiding our instruction. This year, we have implemented the use of the MAP test for reading and math, which creates a portrait of individual students’ and cohorts’ growth. Preliminary results from these nationally normed tools indicate that the tremendous gaps that we find in our preschool populations diminish over the years that our students are enrolled at Charlottesville City Schools, leading to our strong end-of-course pass rates and our rising graduation rate at CHS.
- Want more information? Visit charlottesvilleschools.org/NYT or charlottesvilleschools.org/equity.
- Want to request that a topic be opened for comments and feedback? Please email [email protected]
Please join us at our second community forum on Tuesday, November 27 at 7:30pm at CHS. We appreciate your input as we work toward our common goal of equity for our schools and community.