Loudoun County NAACP Calls for Investigation into Academies’ Admissions Process

Nathaniel Cline, Loudon Times-Mirror, March 25, 2019

The Loudoun County [Virginia] NAACP says it wants a full investigation from the school system into the admissions process for the Academies of Loudoun due to the small number of black students accepted into the specialized schools.

The Academies, which opened in August 2018 and sits on 120 acres located off Sycolin Road, is intended to train students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). {snip}

The Acadmies has 1,542 students enrolled and has an application process that reviews previous grades, scores and requires further testing.

A total of 2,116 students applied for the Academy of Science and Academy of Engineering and Technology {snip}.

Only one black student was accepted along with two American Indian and Pacific Islander students, rounding out the three lowest ethnic groups admitted. Asian (353) and white (104) students make up the top two ethnicity groups accepted.

“…it is incumbent upon the NAACP Loudoun Branch to investigate the denial of access to challenge curriculum and education to LCPS African-American students and find the root cause of this educational disparity and injustice,” Thomas said in a letter to LCPS Superintendent Eric Williams.

In late February, an ad hoc committee on equity was created by the Loudoun School Board after community leaders and advocates asked LCPS to commit to assessing equity across the division, including the under-representation of African-American students in the Academies.

{snip}

Loudoun school system Public Information Officer Wayde Byard said {snip} the schools are “committed to a rigorous and equitable admissions process for all three programs.”

To increase diversity and interest into STEM programs, the school division said it is expanding its gifted education program called Empowering Diversity in Gifted Education (EDGE) across all elementary schools and expanding the after-school EDGE and STEM readiness programs, including Level Up programs, to more elementary and middle schools.

{snip}

Byard added, “Beginning with admissions windows opening in the fall of 2019, changes to the admissions process will be made to decrease testing bias and better measure aptitude and passion for STEM, rather than achievement alone. {snip}.”

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Academy of Science and Academy of Engineering and Technology applications vs. students accepted in 2018-2019:

-American Indian — 8/2
-Asian — 1,332/353
-Black/African-American — 65/1
-Hispanic — 82/12
-Multiracial — 78/15
-Pacific Islander — 2/2
-White — 549/104

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