How One School District Won Prestigious Prize for Narrowing Achievement Gap

Amanda Paulson, Christian Science Monitor, September 20, 2011

[Editor’s Note: This article does not include figures on how much improvement there was.]

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina took home the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education this year, and with it $550,000 in scholarship money for high school seniors.

The prize, which has been awarded for the past 10 years, recognizes urban districts for strides in improving overall student achievement as well as narrowing the achievement gap for minority and low-income students.

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“Charlotte-Mecklenburg is a model for innovation in urban education,” said US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who announced the winner at a ceremony Tuesday in Washington. “It has taken on the tough work of turning around low-performing schools, created a culture of using data to improve classroom instruction, and put a laserlike focus preparing students for college and careers.”

The CMS district serves about 135,000 students, 53 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced lunches. About 67 percent of its students are African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian. Among the achievements that the prize panelists highlighted, Charlotte-Mecklenburg:

• Narrowed the achievement gap between its African-American students and both district and state white students at all levels in reading and math. It also narrowed the gap between Hispanic and white students at all levels in math and for middle and high school students in reading.

• Had the highest SAT participation rate for African-American seniors (62 percent) of all 75 districts who qualified for the Broad Prize.

{snip}

The panelists also highlighted a number of the district’s practices, including a lauded strategic staffing initiative put in place by former superintendent Peter Gorman, who left the district in June. The initiative moves the most effective principals into chronically failing schools and allows them to bring with them top teachers, who are given financial incentives. The panelists also noted changes Mr. Gorman made to how layoffs are conducted–now based on performance as well as seniority–and how teachers are compensated, as well as the district’s openness to alternative sources for teachers and principals, including Teach for America and New Leaders for New Schools.

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  • Byron

    Yeah, they moved the best teachers and administrators to the worst schools, but I bet the other half of that equation was moving the worst teachers/administrators to the best schools. To narrow the gap you don’t even need to bring the bottom up, you can drag the top down. Expect less from white kids and the gap is narrowed. Remember the old story about the race horse and the plow horse? The plow horse can only run as fast as the race horse if you cripple the race horse. The race horse can only pull as much as the plow horse if you cripple the plow horse. Either way, you have narrowed the gap.

  • Informed

    And of course the white children who were doing well will be penalized by having the worst teachers and administrators in the district. I wonder if part of the blacks and hispanics “narrowing the gap” with whites is that the white scores declined due to the ineffective teachers that they are now obviously saddled with. Actually, I don’t wonder at all.

  • NBJ

    This entire article is a farce. Why no mention of the eight low performing, majority black/hispanic schools that were closed last year? Narrowing the achievement gap my foot. If they have made any gains it’s because those low performing (black) students were moved on to greener…er…Whiter pastures. This couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the DNC coming to town next year could it? Everyone who lives in or around Charlotte knows their school district is one of the worst in the state. I don’t believe a word of this article.

  • E Pluribus Pluribus

    The editorial page editor of the Charlotte Observer sees the Charlotte public schools a little differently than does the Broad Prize selection committee:

    “One former elected official who has worked tirelessly for decades in Charlotte’s trenches now says all that work may have been for naught. When evaluating Charlotte, this cup-half-full person sees the cup half-empty: Too many public schools failing. An intractable wealth and academic achievement gap between whites and minorities.” (“A Reminder: Every Thorn Has Its Rose,” Taylor Batten, Editorial Page Editor, Charlotte Observer, Aug. 7, 2011)http://tinyurl.com/3cq2z7n

    How to explain the discrepancy? Super-rich leftists, desparate to generate good PR for the crucial political base of the Democratic Party, the government schooling monopoly, want to point to at least ONE urban school system that “works.” Else the public might give up on state-run schooling.

  • Question Diversity

    Prediction: Within a year, we’ll find out that there was either mild or massive cheating in the CMS school system.

  • HH

    Narrowing of these so-called “achievement-gaps” is, of course, a very misleading and possibly meaningless gain. Few would argue that Black and Hispanic students CANNOT do at least somewhat better, on average, academically than they currently do, or have for decades. Blacks especially have made lack of academic achievement something of a cultural norm among their own, and those that do try harder, are allegedly assailed for “acting White” or similar nonsense.

    The point is, I do believe some narrowing of this gap is not only possible but probable. Of course, if White sudents were pushed harder, those gains may disappear too.

    It’s all a sham really – the fact that Blacks and other non-Whites(except various Asians)obviously lag in intellectual capacity development is clear to all honest, thinking people.

  • dan dawe

    Oh, come on. Every single time some school narrows that nasty “achievement gap”, we find out in the very near future that they cheated. Every single time.

  • Rhialto

    The war on white men continues.

  • Bill R

    The fact that 62% of blacks in that school participated in the SAT exams means absolutely NOTHING. How many actually passed? How many achieved high enough scores to compete for college placement on their own merits, no affirmative action?

    Coercing or cajoling a lot of blacks to take the SATs is NOT narrowing the gap. It’s merely flooding the SAT test room with blacks who would not be there by their own choice. One wonders…..what incentive to BE there was used? Ipods? Or some such?

  • Anonymous

    How many years do you think it will take for “intelligence gap” or “IQ gap” to break into the mainstream?!! Let’s use them as often as we can. I do!

  • sbuffalonative

    There was a contest with money involved. I am the only one who sees this as a formula to promote fraud?

    As others have noted, ‘the gap’ has been narrowed. How was this done? Taking high performance teachers and placing them with the low performing teacher. Where did the low performing teachers go and just how much did the grades drop with these low performing teachers?

    It doesn’t take an Issac Newton to figure this one out. Minority performance improved slightly while White performance dropped thereby narrowing ‘the gap’.

    I can’t wait for this breakthrough to be tauted as THE ANSWER to low performing schools.

    Many White students are going to be hobbled before this scam is exposed for what it is.

    I hope the parents of the children with the low performing teachers make an issue of this.

  • Tab Numlock

    Inverted lib logic. Everyone admits that young white men have contributed the most to civilization. Therefore, it only makes sense that they be given short shrift and emphasis be given to those who have contributed the least or negatively.

  • Wattdidusay

    So they move the best to the worst and the worst to the best. They close the very worst and then they teach monkeys to play chopsticks, or chicken…. which ever. Smoke and mirrors, another questionable use of tax dollars and a denial of the pink elephant sitting in the room.

  • madison grant

    They merely engaged in test fraud like Atlanta.

    Give North Carolina’s black and white students SAT and IQ tests and you’ll see the same old gap pop up.

  • Mike H.

    Yes, I’m sure they narrowed the achievement gap. Just like the school district in Atlanta did. Probably used the same methods too.

    In this case, I’m guessing “most effective” teaching staff means “most effective at illegally raising student grades without being detected.”

  • Ben

    • Narrowed the achievement gap between its African-American students and both district and state white students at all levels in reading and math. It also narrowed the gap between Hispanic and white students at all levels in math and for middle and high school students in reading.

    I’m intrigued to know by how much the gap was “narrowed.”

    They should worry.

    The gap is still there. Shouldn’t it be eliminated completely since environment prompts all other phenomena?

  • olewhitelady

    Narrowing the achievement gap between whites and blacks and whites and Hispanics is impossible. It has nothing to do with bad parents, bad teachers, bad schoolhouses, or bad culture. It has to do with IQ, plain and simple. As #5 Question Diversity points out, fraud is afoot.

  • John Engelman

    Moving the best teachers and principals to the worst schools is a likely method of getting them to quit their jobs. Hardly anyone would rather teach the illegitimate children of the underclass than upper middle class kids with high IQs who are trying to get into the colleges of their choices.

  • Anonymous

    This entire award is a bogus and a fake done only because the DNC is coming in 2012 and Obama demanded this so he will have something to lie about bragging about how the race “gap” has been conquered.

    Everyone knows there are less than 25% white students in CMS now and the test results have been terrible and who found many cases of schools cheating on EOG testing results. Suddenly they are the greatest? This is a shock to all but we know figures dont lie but liars can figure. Ask Atlanta schools although this says not much for the competition.

  • Anonymous

    Why is it the responsibility of whites to raise the performance scores of other people’s children? I’m not questioning the provision of a basic education, I’m questioning this moon-shot mentality of preferring other people’s children to your own. I thought the US was a proposition nation, that you came here, were given equal treatment under the law, but that it was YOUR RESPONSIBILITY after that to do what you would with your liberty? White people are insane for even participating in this! The main problem, though, in rectifying this is to get free-form, unattached white female maternal instincts to stop attaching to people who HATE us. These highly motivated whites who participate in these equalization programs just make it more difficult on other white’s children!

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Moving the best teachers and principals to the worst schools is a likely method of getting them to quit their jobs.

    –John Engelman

    John:

    I believe the ultimate purpose of moving the best teachers to the worst schools IS to get them to quit.

    I see a very strong trend toward the elimination of White teachers throughout my own school district; we Whites are systematically being replaced with low IQd hispanic, black and incomprehensible H-1b Visa teachers from the Philippines and Nigeria.

    H-1b Visas, used in our case, the same way they have been used in Silicon Valley — to import a new class of teachers who are lower – paid, more docile and easily replaceable. Just as the California msm report that there is a “dire shortage of engineers and programmers” to justify importing Indian workers, you’ll read in the local papers that there are teacher shortages in “certain areas” such as math and science. Don’t believe it, I see H-1b teachers in classrooms across all subject matters including English.

    This new, low brigade, wholly lacking in subject matter, and “marching in lock-step” to marxist slogans and “social justice” ideology are far less likely to agitate for “rights” or salary increases and far more likely to toe the company line. I see members of this cohort in regional meetings holding copies of “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, the new “Little Red Book” of the anti-White social justice movement; for them, it is the not-to-be-questioned marching orders of the new order, led by the likes of Bill Ayers and Tim Wise. Indeed, I have seen posters of Mao in public school history classrooms, right next to displays dedicated to Che.

    The jerks in the statehouse as I write this are working to eliminate teacher seniority with the express purpose of sending older, mostly White, more highly paid, more union-type teachers to the absolute worst schools — the excuse being “that’s where you’re needed the most!!” Out of the other sides of their mouths, they’re screaming about not having enough teachers that “represent the race of the students, the students can only learn from those who look like them!!”

    It is teacher replacement, based on race, the educational version of the larger writ version of White race-replacement that is going on everywhere.

    Bon

  • Jack D.R.

    A person should really take a close look at this and, thus, how the school has compiled and assembled its results. First, I would venture to guess some hush-hush test help is being given to the minorities. There are some inappropriate types of actions that may occur during testing to help a child “get at” and derive the correct answer (e.g., the sky is green, red, BLUE, or yellow). Second, this is not the first school to employ this scheme (move the teachers and administrators from high performing schools to low performing schools and expecting a 180 on test results); it does not work that way.

    Now, it would be nice to know if this school is a magnate school (the extremely, high performing European American children placed into a majority black or majority Hispanic school to bolster up scores). Food for thought: one cannot produce a thoroughbred from a mule (something positive taking place and resulting from nothing). Not only must there be something located in the attic, there must be a correct mindset established for achievement and accomplishment.

  • Anonymous

    Oh yeah? And how did the Whites/Asians in the district in question performed when given this “beefed up” curriculum from the best teachers and principals in the country? I bet their scores went up too and the pesky gap came back.

  • sedonaman

    Why don’t they ask how the schools became “low-performing” and needed “turning around” to begin with?

  • Kingoldby

    Taking the best teachers and putting them in the worst schools is a great way of losing your best teachers and of lowering the standards in your best schools.

    The gap will decline as the best schools fall in their standards toward the worst schools.

  • Anonymous

    The best teachers in any sane system would teach the best students. They would also get a bonus because they are good and taking good students and making great. Instead they are taking dumb students and making them less dumb and probably only claiming to do so.

  • Cid Campeador

    2 — John Engelman wrote at 7:42 AM on September 22:

    “Moving the best teachers and principals to the worst schools is a likely method of getting them to quit their jobs. Hardly anyone would rather teach the illegitimate children of the underclass than upper middle class kids with high IQs who are trying to get into the colleges of their choices.”

    John,

    As a teacher of 43 years I’ve seen many good teachers transferred to schools whose “student” population was feral. Most of the older ones retired early and the young idealists quit when painful reality hit home. They had decided that the goal of reaching even one or two of these Wilde Chaim (as one of my Jewish colleagues referred to them)wasn’t worth the risk.

  • Anonymous

    So I can only infer that they moved the WORST principals & teachers…GUESS WHERE? To the best performing (i.e., White) schools.

    It’s called regression toward the mean…at best. The Black kids gain a few points here & there, while the White kids suffer.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Stayed tuned.

    When jobs are based on test scores: “layoffs are—now based on performance as well as seniority”, and schools rely on clueless Teach for America types, there is bound to be cheating, and lots of it.

    For some schools that have been praised, given awards and accolades for “miraculously” raising test scores– the secret to their success was…. cheating!!

    Cheating is rampant, I see it around me every single day, hear about it from colleagues who work across all sectors of my own district’s 710 square miles. I would say NOT CHEATING is the exception!! This has been going on for years, BTW.

    From Atlanta:

    Superintendent Beverly Hall, was named US Superintendent of the Year in 2009 largely because of the school system’s reported gains—especially in inner-city schools… the district received notice and funding from the Broad Foundation and the Gates Foundation.

    From Los Angeles:

    Crescendo’s inexplicable, but rapidly rising scores qualified them for ‘miracle school’ status.. the LATimes lauded Crescendo and other corporate charter chains.

    Even England, as it become increasingly more ‘diverse’, cannot escape:

    A school described as ‘brilliant’ by David Cameron was at the centre of an exam cheat probe yesterday.

    What’s being reported is the tip of a vast iceberg.

    Bon

  • Anonymous

    Posters # 2 and 5 are entirely correct. All across the nation, the attack on teachers is really an attack on WHITE teachers, who are older, more experienced, and who make a little more money. They are the ‘old guard’ of traditional American values and culture.

    The leftists want them out so they can usher in their ‘social justice’ utopia, a utopia that eliminates ‘white privilege’ – by, of course, eliminating the presence of whites, period.

    This may sound crazy, since most leftists are, in fact, white (or jewish-white), but in their own writings and speeches, they call the white race evil as a whole and WANT us ‘old, white people to die.’ This info is not hidden and google searches easily turn up such sentiments.

    As Bon noted, these new ‘minority’ teachers know next to nothing about their content areas. I have witnessed this after many years in the field. Next to nothing! All the time such ‘teachers’ are coming up to me and asking me questions that they should have known the answer to already.

    We are being erased, and we are allowing it to happen. This is how the Romans were erased too. They let their culture get diluted, corrupted and they let in hostile immigrants that weakened the bonds of government and community.

  • Spartan24

    Just another reason to get your white kids out of public school. Now! As soon as the “teach for America” and poorly performing teachers moved from minority schools get ahold of your kids they will be a year or so behind. Either sacrifice and get them into a decent private school or teach them at home. What happens when all the highly performing teachers are white and the “gap” still exists? The parents will start howling loudly that their kids are not learning since the teachers don’t “look like them” you can’t win.

  • sheila

    Hey…these posts are great…you all seem so in tune…cool.

    As a *former* educator I have seen and know so much about this topic… I am personally familiar with a county school system that brought its scores up greatly via a deal with the local city school system (99.99999 % black) by offering to increase its student population by giving the city some of its most horrific schools.

    The *city* wanted these schools in order to increase its federal funding…more blacks more $ from the *gov-mint*

    I can’t believe I can make such remarks and laugh, but what can one expect from a liberal gone *real*?

  • sheila

    Editor…you didn’t snip snip out *the figures on how much improvement there was* did you? It wouldn’t matter because everyone *should* know these figures are manipulated by these so-called *urban* black schools anyway.

    It’s true! I used to help do that…you know… CHEAT…well inadvertently anyway…some of us protested but we all knew it was a *black thing*!

    Oh sure I eventually quit but I would not give anything for the experiences…simply being made aware of the black psych, how it works and why…well it was like a *born again* Christian must feel when they are, what, uh… BORN AGAIN.

    really…la la

  • Ken

    Yes they decreased the gap by decreasing the SAT scores. Here it is from THEIR own website.

    http://goo.gl/QmMjn

  • zone

    Narrowing the achievement gap means only that they gained on their Causcasian counterparts – but by how much, and from what starting point? It is easy to narrow the gap for example if the students before were not even participating in class.

    Or as Woody Allen once said;

    “80 percent of success is just showing up.”

  • Boondoggler

    And if you believe this, I have some swamp land in Louisana, right next to those amazing levies that you might be interested in.

  • Anonymous

    Preaching to the choir–homeschool. I teach the feral children that have been thrown out of regular school. There are so many addicted, mentally ill children in “inclusion” classes that the entire group of students is demoralized, brought down, apathetic, etc. On the days (rare) when the worst of the worst are not in school, I can actually get some (way below par) work out of the students who are in class. BTW, these students are anywhere from 4-8 years below reading at grade level. I sometimes believe that my animals understand more English then my students.

  • Ken

    Zone I cannot find any of the school district’s SAT statistics broken down by race (Gee wonder why?), but I have found some by each high school and district in North Carolina. http://goo.gl/s6SWF

    When you add more test takers to the SAT, the less the SAT average, as seen here. http://goo.gl/r0lRk Whites have the largest fluctuation in IQ of any race, meaning whites have a lot of geniuses and a lot of dumb people. Asians and blacks tend to hover more around their average IQ. In other words, when you add more white test takers to the SAT, you are going to see a larger fluctuation in the white SAT average. While adding more black test takers will result in very little change to their average SAT score, the average will still be very low. “Narrowing the Gap” in this case is really just producing a more accurate result , falling in line with the IQ differences in race.

    You can find 2011 SAT data here http://goo.gl/RKYjc

  • Anonymous

    The best Teachers, teaching the worst students. That makes sense, to a Liberal.

    The Teachers’ method of instruction, to the poor Bantus, would be the use of a whip and a chair.

  • Anonymous

    Bon wrote

    “I believe the ultimate purpose of moving the best teachers to the worst schools IS to get them to quit.

    I see a very strong trend toward the elimination of White teachers throughout my own school district; we Whites are systematically being replaced with low IQd hispanic, black and incomprehensible H-1b Visa teachers from the Philippines and Nigeria.”

    This went on for decades when vicious affirmative black women were the principals and administrators. During the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s virtually every new White teacher was sent to the infamous district C S. Central Los Angeles. Both the students, other teachers and administrators bullied and harassed the Whites into quitting. Or else they were considered “unable to manage the classrooms” and fired after 1 year.

    There was 1 fourth grade class where I taught that behaved so badly that they had 7 teachers in just one 9 month school year. About half the teachers who left were White, half black.

  • Anonymous

    Are teachers all that important? My IQ is not all that high. I learned to read at the normal time, around the end of 1st grade.

    My end of the year 3rd reading achievement scores were 9th grade level. My end of the year 4th grade reading achievement scores were 12th grade. My math end of the year scores were always 2 grades above grade level.

    I couldn’t understand anything at all about math from what the teacher did. I figured it out by myself, mostly by memorizing the formulas.

    Do teachers really matter?

  • Anonymous

    Commenting on #25: In the ideal world, a teacher acts as a resource and a guide. A teacher can tell a student where to find information, and help him or her figure out the meaning of something. The best teachers are in the background–letting the student experience something (that the teacher has set up, perhaps), but being a presence in case something should go wrong.

    That being said, what teachers do nowadays is nothing like that. We have to keep the really horrible students (bad either from culture or mental illness) from hurting each other and from hurting the okay-to-good students. Not what the old-fashioned teachers signed up to do.

  • Fed Up

    I, too, teach the bottom of the barrel – Special Education. When I began in this field, 13 years ago, I was teaching children with mental retardation, Downs Syndrome, congenital defects that seriously affected their cognitive abilities – and I loved it. Today, you can’t get pupils like this for love nor money. They’re too much in demand. There’s a HUGE boom in Special Ed, of course, but all the opportunities are in “Seriously Emotionally Disturbed /Behavioral Disorders” and THESE people are driving gifted Special Ed teachers right out of education. Let me clarify one thing: there have ALWAYS been “bad kids”. The difference today is the overwhelming numbers of seriously psychiatrically disturbed (and violent) kids that we are ordered to make “advanced” or “proficient” in math, science, reading and writing. Last week, I had a boy screaming at the “faces” on my classroom ceiling, “I’m not a fag! YOU’RE a fag!!!” during an Algebra test. I’ve had to deal with psychotic breaks (I’ve had my nose broken twice and received 13 stitches for a slashed back) with no assistance or support whatsoever from administration. One teacher (8 months pregnant) in the classroom next to mine was sexually assaulted by a Special Ed kid and I found her crouched over, crying hysterically and vomiting in the stairwell. After a two day suspension, the boy was placed back in her classroom. (Her husband came to school that same day, physically pulled her out of the building, and spit in the principal’s face on the way out.) It’s true that I work in an awful urban district. It’s also true that people outside the teaching field have no idea how nightmarish conditions are. I hope to live out two more years before I quit, taking my doctorate and 15 years of experience with me, and move someplace safe, sane and WHITE. Nice work if I can find it.

  • John Engelman

    The only way to narrow the achievement gap is to find ways to keep whites and Orientals from achieving.

  • Anonymous

    Why hasn’t the famous Teachers Union spoken up in defense of these white teachers who are being shoved around to pursue some social experiment? They are a joke.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    I, too, teach the bottom of the barrel – Special Education. When I began in this field, 13 years ago, I was teaching children with mental retardation, Downs Syndrome, congenital defects that seriously affected their cognitive abilities – and I loved it. Today, you can’t get pupils like this for love nor money. They’re too much in demand.

    You can’t get students like this because they’ve been mainstreamed!! Even children with DS have the right to be in a “regular” classroom.

    As one of my colleagues is fond of stating: What I used to see in my Special ed classroom is now mainstreamed. What I ‘taught’ in the locked-up adolescent psychiatric ward is what is now in my classroom!!

    (he finally quit a few years ago BTW, had to to maintain his sanity)

    Bon

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    # 29 Anonymous writes:

    Why hasn’t the famous Teachers Union spoken up in defense of these white teachers who are being shoved around to pursue some social experiment? They are a joke.

    1. Because the teachers’ unions agree with educational dogma: a.) No such thing as IQ. b.) All students are equally capable of mastering advanced math, chemistry and physics.

    2. Because the teachers’ unions do not represent Whites, only non-Whites. Whites have no advocacy groups to support us, as do non-Whites who can call up a plethora of powerful, race-based advocacy in an instant. (EEOC, for one).

    For Whites to receive redress, we must hire outside, private attorneys. If we win, it is NEVER publicized.

    Bon