GCS Takes Steps Toward Closing the Achievement Gap

The literacy rate for many African American male students is low, while the suspension rate for African American male students is disproportionally high. As part of Superintendent Maurice "Mo" Green's strategic plan goal of improving academic achievement, Guilford County Schools (GCS) will launch two pilot programs designed to address these issues.

After more than a year of research, community engagement and discussions with experts, GCS is ready to launch two pilot programs designed to strike at the heart of these issues. These pilot programs plan to make substantial reductions in the number of African American male students suspended, while increasing the literacy rates for African American male students. The district will achieve these goals by providing teachers with training grounded in culturally relevant education.

"Engaging and maintaining a student's interest is critical to their academic success," said Jocelyn Becoats, executive director of pre K-8 curriculum. "This training highlights the unique learning styles of African American males and provides teachers with research-based, culturally relevant practices to support the teaching and learning in the classroom."

These two pilot programs will be implemented at nine schools across the county. Three schools, Parkview Elementary, Ferndale Middle, and High Point Central High will host a pilot program addressing the disproportional suspension rates for African American male students. Meanwhile, six schools, Irving Park Elementary, Montlieu Academy of Technology, Peck Elementary, Fairview Elementary, Allen Jay Elementary, and Sedgefield Elementary, will begin piloting a program that addresses the literacy rates for African American male students.

"GCS is not the only school district in the nation with these problems," said Brenda Elliot, executive director of student services. "However we are on the forefront in acknowledging, analyzing, and executing programs to address these issues." 

GCS will host two symposiums for teachers from pilot schools to provide training based on research conducted by the Achieving Educational Excellence for African American Male Students project team. On July 31 through Aug. 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., a symposium on the topic of early literacy will be held at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Education, located at 1400 Spring Garden St., Greensboro. On August 1 and 2, a separate symposium on the disproportionalityof discipline in schools will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at High Point University, located at 833 Montlieu Ave., High Point.