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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Hillsborough board will have lots of information about racial disparities



For the second time this year, the Hillsborough County School Board will sit down to discuss disparities in achievement and discipline between white and minority students. Like all board workshops, Tuesday's 9 a.m. session is open to the public.

A letter from the NAACP, calling for measures that include a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions, prompted Tuesday's discussion, which was suggested by member Susan Valdes. Board members have said in recent weeks that they hope the discussion will go beyond the letter itself.

But, as with past workshops, they can expect a detailed presentation from staff. A PowerPoint of more than 100 pages is posted on the workshop agenda, thick with statistics.

Among them:

  • Kindergarten readiness in 2012 ranged from 58.7 percent among Hispanic students to 80.4 percent for whites.
  • Chronic absenteeism is roughly proportional among students of different races.
  • But mobility tends to be higher. At Potter Elementary, a F-graded school that is 89 percent black, nearly half of all fifth graders this spring (31 out of 71) had been in the school for less than a year when they took their FCAT.
  • Districtwide, white third-graders are far more likely (73 percent) to be reading on grade level than African American (37 percent) or Hispanic students (46 percent.) In math, those numbers break down to 68 percent for white students, 35 percent of black students and 48 percent of Hispanics. Differences exist in the other grades as well.
  • Reading proficiency for African American males is improving gradually (31.5 percent in 2011 compared with 28 percent for 2007) and Hispanic males (43.4 in 2011, up from 40.6 in 2007). The numbers fell between 2011 and 2012 as the tests became more difficult.
  • In the Trial Urban District Assessment -- a voluntary study of urban districts that includes Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia -- Hillsborough's minority students in fourth grade scored far higher than their counterparts throughout the state, nationwide or in large cities. The Hispanic numbers were slightly better than the state average and much better than the nation and other cities. For eighth reading grade results, Hillsborough's African American students were about on par with the state and the nation. Hispanic scores were comparable to the rest of the state but better than the nation and other cities.
  • Graduation rates are improving for African American male students, but so are graduation rates as a whole. The gap is narrowing but it still exists. The same can be said for Hispanic graduation data.
  • Hillsborough has 7,746 students in AVID, a study skills program run under contract with a nonprofit organization in California. More than half are African American or Hispanic.
  • African American and Hispanic students are taking more and more Advanced Placement tests; but again, so are all students. The increases over five years break out as follows: 125 percent for all Hillsborough students, 205 percent for African American students, 191 percent for Hispanic students. Pass rates also are increasing across the board.
  • Now for the statistics on discipline:
  • Black students are disciplined in greatly disproportionate numbers, although that situation improved between 2012 and 2013. They continue to be over-represented in ATOSS, which stands for Alternative to Out of School Suspension and offers programs off-campus. Those numbers rose for all groups this year as out-of-school suspensions decreased dramatically.

There also is information in the PowerPoint about the salary differential paid to teachers in high-poverty schools, the district's African American history curriculum, and it's adult education program.

[Last modified: Monday, November 11, 2013 4:40pm]


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