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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Janssen: Black student achievement effort back on track



Here’s an update we had planned to note yesterday, before the course of district events steered us in other directions …  

A Pinellas school district effort to take a closer look at black student achievement is getting back on track, and a funding source for the effort has been identified, Superintendent Julie Janssen told The Gradebook late Wednesday.

Janssen said the Kellogg Foundation will be picking up the tab for the deal, which will still include the hiring of Northwestern University professor David Figlio. She said Figlio will be meeting with officials from the district, the University of Florida and perhaps other folks on Aug. 25, to better determine the scope of the effort and establish timelines. “We’re anxious to get started,” Janssen said, noting she had talked to Figlio that day.

District officials proposed hiring Figlio back in April, after the especially low performance of black students in Pinellas (relative to black students in other districts) came under scrutiny. But then Janssen pulled the item from the board agenda. Then officials with COQEBS registered reservations. Then Janssen said she wanted to broaden the effort and secure outside funding. Then the issue fell off the radar.

Janssen said Wednesday the effort stalled because she needed to focus on the teacher training contracts with UF’s Lastinger Center.

She said she still envisions a bigger effort that will include UF, the district’s research and accountability office and possibly another research center. She said she could not speculate on cost, except to reiterate again that the district would not be on the hook. She said Lastinger director Don Pemberton indicated Kellogg would fund it.

In an email to the Gradebook, Pemberton said Kellogg has authorized Lastinger to use its Kellogg grant funds to help underwrite the effort.

“We anticipate Northwestern University professor David Figglio would be the lead researcher on this effort with UF researchers providing support and the W.K. Kellogg providing its expertise as well,” Pemberton also wrote. “Since the budget is still being developed, we are not sure if Kellogg funds will cover all expenses but we are fairly confident that it will pay for much, if not all, of the cost. As presently conceptualized, we think Kellogg Foundation funding should be sufficient. Of course, if the scope of this effort expands, other funding could be needed.”

[Last modified: Friday, August 12, 2011 12:52pm]


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