Windsor Board of Ed. examines results from Equity and Excellence Review

By Calla Vassilopoulos - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Fri., Aug. 30, 2013
Windsor Board of Education held a special meeting to look at the Equity and Excellence Review study. Photo by Calla Vassilopoulos.
Windsor Board of Education held a special meeting to look at the Equity and Excellence Review study. Photo by Calla Vassilopoulos.

The Windsor Board of Education gathered on Aug. 29 for a special meeting regarding the Equity and Excellence Review. The study conducted by Loyola University resulted from a partnership with the Windsor Public Schools as an effort to analyze the achievement gap between white and minority students.

“I think for a very long time we guessed and made suppositions about what's wrong,” said BOE President Doreen Richardson. “We have designed strategies for what we thought was wrong, but we never had any analysis of our own experience as a district – how we deliver instruction, how students access instruction, how board policy influences that access and practice.”

At the meeting, Dr. Marlon James and his colleagues from Loyola University presented their findings to the BOE and community. Their research was based on Windsor Public Schools data from 2011 and 2012.

One area of discussion was AP courses and how different gender and racial groups were represented in these classes. With regard to male students, black and Hispanics were underrepresented in the number of students taking at least one AP course. For example, 11th grade black males made up 14 percent of males taking at least one AP course, Hispanics made up 6 percent, and white males made up 74 percent.

“When they are over-represented, you get more people than their percent of the population,” said James. “For example in this case, when you look at white males, they are only 15 percent of the school's population, but they are actually 74 percent of all 11th grade males taking AP courses. Statistically, all things being equal, that should never happen. That is a sign of inequality of access.”

After the BOE meeting adjourned, and prior to the community presentation, Windsor High School Principal Russell Sills said the school has already been actively working to increase involvement in AP courses. He said over the last few years they have recruited students, held open enrollment, and organized Project Open Doors to create extra resources and study groups for students struggling. He said the school made huge progress with involvement in AP courses, and they plan to use tools and the information from the study to continue the upward trend. 

“There was a great deal of time that went into the research, so we want to take a lot of time to be thoughtful about reflection,” said Sills. “I think we know there's an achievement gap at the high school, we know there's an achievement gap in Windsor, and I think this is the first step to figure out how to fix that.”

Richardson said she was impressed with the study and that in the next few months the board plans to hold meetings with senior administrative staff to understand the data in detail.

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