Community Invited to World Cafe

7 years 11 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, November 04 2010 Nov 4, 2010 Thursday, November 04, 2010 10:09:36 PM CDT November 04, 2010 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Public School District hosted a public forum Thursday night to discuss the achievement gap in mid-Missouri. The event took place at 6:30 p.m. at the Stoney Creek Inn. The purpose of the forum was to gather community input and discuss in small groups what children need to succeed from birth to age five, in school, at home and in the community.

Rock Bridge High School teacher Jennifer Blackcone says achievement gaps have been an issue for a long time.

"This is not a new thing. It's just that it's becoming I think more obvious because we're putting more attention on it," said Blackcone.

Columbia Public School District Superintendent Dr. Chris Belcher says help is all around in mid Missouri.
 
"I would encourage parents and families to utilize the good graces of this community so they can provide their children with what they need to be successful," said Belcher.

Everyone in attendance at the forum was given a data sheet which lists the achievement gap statistics in the district, state, and the country.

Notable national statistics include 78 percent of African American students receive free or reduced lunch as compared to only 25 percent of white students.

Local statistics show 21 percent of African Americans in fifth grade score Proficient or Advanced on the Missouri Assessment Plan in Communication Arts as opposed to 63 percent for white fifth graders.

In that same test statewide, 30 percent of African Americans are receiving Proficient marks as compared to 57 percent of white fifth graders.

Many solution ideas were discussed at the forum.

"We have to get class sizes down, we've got to get extra help for those kids that need special attention, and we also need to get more community involvement," said Blackcone.

Blackcone says there will be follow up meetings in the spring, and she hopes to see results in the next five to ten years.

Organizers say more than 350 people were in attendance.

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