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CMS Board Chair, Vice Chair reflect on efforts to close achievement gap

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has a 2024 Strategic Plan dedicated to making all students college and career ready.
On tonight's final Making the Grade, our education reporter Courtney Cole shares the current workshops CMS is doing to improve student outcomes.
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 6:50 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Since the start of the school year for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, we’ve brought you stories from parents, students, teachers, school leaders, and community members about the achievement gap between white and minority students.

WBTV’s yearlong commitment to sharing their perspectives and suggestions helped us understand how more students can “make the grade.”

We’ve explored support for English learners, students with disabilities, tutoring programs, community involvement and several other topics.

The 2021-22 school year is over, but the goals and strategies to improve student outcomes are still in progress.

More than 140,000 students attend CMS schools.

From the furthest edges of the county to the inner city, all have different passions and too often different outcomes - for many minority students this difference in achievement is larger.

The Board of Education Vice-Chair Thelma Byers-Bailey, says school staff can only help children improve if they know the student’s current status and the challenges they’re facing.

“You’ve got to focus on where the students are because you don’t know how to improve them if you don’t know where they are,” Byers-Bailey said.

Since last summer CMS has made it a priority to work on improving student outcomes. They’ve held monthly workshops pouring over data and creating smart goals to support students.

CMS is investing federal COVID funds to improve social-emotional well-being for students.

“We went to staff and said with these values in mind, bring us the data, show us where we have the most work to do, and let’s shine a light on that. Let’s develop a goal around that,” Board Chair Elyse Dashew said.

These workshops include The topics included improving third-grade reading levels, increasing minority student enrollment in advanced classes, and upping math performance.

“I hope it is reassuring to know, ‘okay they’re really zeroing in on the work that my kids need from them.’ That whole term laser light focus,” Dashew said.

CMS has multiple community partners that work with students to improve their reading scores.

Through a partnership with Read Charlotte and Learning Ovations, CMS launched the Assessment to Instruction (A2i) program pilot for Allenbrook Elementary, Hidden Valley Elementary, Hornets Nest Elementary, Montclaire Elementary, Piney Grove Elementary and Sterling Elementary.

CMS says one of its main goals is improving literacy for Black and Brown third-graders.

“Tutoring for those students who are really far behind is the solution for them and that’s individual or maybe even small groups,” Byers-Bailey said.

CMS is also investing federal COVID funds to improve social-emotional well-being for students, something many students and parents are pushing for to counteract violence and support students with their mental health needs.

“We’ve got to address those mitigating things that are stopping the student, being barriers for the student to learn,” Byers-Bailey said.

District leaders say they can’t do this work alone - from the board to the principals, teachers, parents and even you at home - district leaders say intentional community involvement can help more students make the grade.

“To that whole notion as a community we’re going to really have to kind of figure out where we’re going and all row in the same direction,” Dashew said.

Click here to read the district’s 2024 Strategic Plan.

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