Making the Grade: CMS Superintendent Focusing on Teachers and Tutoring to Close Achievement Gap

CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston talks about what the district is doing to close the achievement gap between Black and White students.
Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 10:08 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) Superintendent Earnest Winston talks about what the district is doing to close the achievement gap between Black and White students.

Test scores are low and more than 40 CMS schools are low performing and are located in mainly Black communities. The state gives those schools a D or F. The first quarter of the school year is now over - Winston shared what has been done in the first quarter to increase academic achievement.

“We have spent the first quarter of this school year conducting social and emotional assessments,” CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston said. “As well as screening students academically so that we can understand exactly where each of our students is. Those assessments have wrapped up. We are having conversations with principals to talk about the needs of specific students because as you can imagine - what may be good for one student, we may need different treatment or a different dosage level for another student.”

Charlotte’s top educator also says $50 million will be spent to provide tutoring for students attending those low-performing schools.

Talking with CMS top educator about eliminating the school achievement gap

“Time is a commodity,” he said. “And so we have to be very diligent with our time. And so we know that we need to extend the learning outside of school time. And the best way to do that is before - after school and weekends and during the summer. And so we know that works and it is important that the programs are evidence-based. We have to get results.”

The superintendent believes in order to get the results the community is looking for - students must first not bring weapons to school. So far this school year more than 60 weapons have been found on a CMS campus including more than a dozen guns.

“What I need help from the community is to help ensure that there is an expectation that no weapons - let alone guns will ever be brought onto a CMS campus ever,” Winston said. “Because I don’t know when it ever became acceptable to bring weapons on a campus.”

Winston will also focus on the job of teachers to help close the gap. He celebrates them but he also challenges them to believe in all students. Speakers have been brought in to equip teachers to have high expectations of students no matter what.

“In order to disrupt the systems and the structures that produce inequitable outcomes for students,” Winston said. “We have to first begin with what do you believe and so that is the starting point and so over the past two years our team has focused on shifting and disturbing the mindsets.”

The superintendent is serious about having teachers who believe in all students.

“I’ll tell you this,” Winston said. “If there are employees in general who are not aligned with the expectation of the district - certainly this may not be the best place for them to work...We realize that everyone is at a different level of their journey. And so because someone may not be at the point perhaps you may be at this particular time - then we are committed to working with staff to give them that professional development they need to help them grow.”

Making the Grade series happens every Thursday on WBTV at 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM.

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