Warren County Public Schools continues to see significant gaps in test scores for students who are African-American, Hispanic, English learners, disabled and those who qualify for free and reduced lunch, according to a report recently released by the district.
The third annual Equity Scorecard aims to show a “candid snapshot” of where the district stands on fairness in educational opportunities, discipline practices and employment. Skip Cleavinger, the district’s director of English learner programs, said the report is like a look in the mirror.
“You have to have the courage to say we’re not doing well in this particular area,” said Cleavinger, who also heads the district’s Equity Council.
The report notes test score gaps have been a consistent finding since the first Equity Scorecard was released in 2016.
Using 2016-17 state assessment data, the report compares the academic performance of students who are white, black, Hispanic, Asian and two or more races. It also includes English learner students and those with disabilities.
When compared to white students, the report showed significant gaps in elementary reading and math proficiency for black and Hispanic students. For example, in elementary reading, black students were 28 percentage points behind white students in being proficient or distinguished.
However, the report notes that the largest gaps generally come from English learners and students with disabilities.
English learners and students with disabilities fell the furthest behind white students in middle school reading and math.
In one case, students with disabilities fell 50 percentage points behind the district’s white students in middle school reading. English learners also fell the furthest behind white students in middle school reading, with a 56 percentage-point gap.
The full report is available online at bgdailynews.com.
There are also racial disparities in student office referrals for discipline issues and in the district’s employment practices. Almost 96 percent of teachers and administrators are white.
District officials say they’re taking steps to close those gaps.
When it comes to discipline, Cleavinger said the district is looking at implicit bias training. Cleavinger added that the training would be targeted at the school level and that he wants it to include scenarios and discussions that allow employees to confront their biases.
Additionally, Cleavinger said the district is revisiting discipline practices and trying to prevent office referrals by helping students feel more connected to their classrooms.
The Daily News requested the most recent discipline data available from Warren County Public Schools.
According to the data, African-American students make up 9 percent of the district’s enrollment but made up 16 percent of in- and out-of-school suspensions.
For comparison, that rate was much more proportional for white students who make up 69 percent of enrollment. White students made up 64 percent of in-school suspensions and 67 percent of out-of-school suspensions.
Hispanic students make up 9 percent of WCPS enrollment and accounted for 9 percent of in-school suspensions. They account for 6 percent of out-of-school suspensions.
The Daily News requested similar data from the Bowling Green Independent School District.
According to the most recent school report card data, African-American students make up 18.6 percent of district enrollment. Data sent by the school district showed that black students made up 14.5 percent of in-school removals. They accounted for 13 percent of suspensions.
Hispanic students make up 16.3 percent of the district’s enrollment, according to school report card data. They accounted for 13 percent of in-school removals and 5.5 percent of suspensions.
Christy Bryce, Warren County Public Schools’ director of intervention, said in an email that the district’s data follows the state and national trend when it comes to discipline.
“We have spent the last few years increasing our preventative, proactive approaches to discipline and will continue to do so as we work towards continuous improvement,” she wrote in the email.
In a follow-up interview, Bryce said that includes training staff to be more culturally competent and improving students’ engagement and connection to school. The district has implemented a less punitive and more proactive approach to school discipline, called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.
The district’s overall goal, Bryce said, is to give students “a reason to want to be there and want to learn.”