Manchester mayor, school board members fault report on minority students
At the same time, Gatsas is defending the administration’s early steps in pursuing “de-leveling,” the elimination of track-based divisions of a subject based on student scores and ability.
At Monday’s Board of School Committee meeting, Gatsas was joined by several school board members in criticizing the data.
The report used 2010-2011 state data to note that black students, who made up around 7 percent of high school students, held 4.5 percent of the seats in AP courses; Hispanic students, who made up 11 percent of the student body, held no AP seats in two of the high schools and nine seats (6 percent) at Memorial. White students, by contrast, made up about 75 percent of total students, but held about 85 percent of the AP seats.
The board also engaged in a spirited debate Monday about leveling, after the administration announced plans at a recent school board Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting to move forward with a “de-tracking” pilot program at one of the middle schools.
“If we eliminate college prep — the thing driving kids to excel into a higher level — that’s not increasing opportunities for any students,” Avard said in an interview Tuesday. “This isn’t T-ball; not everyone is going to get a trophy at the end. I want to raise the bar and teach all to jump.”
“It doesn’t work,” he said. “It ends up with the whole class bogged down.”
But Gatsas defended the concept of teaching students of differing abilities in the same class.
Ward 1 school board member Sarah Ambrogi said the board should take the disparities pointed out by the Office of Civil Rights and others seriously and not get “defensive.”
At-large board member Kathy Staub said that the thrust of the report was for the district to take steps to make minority students more aware of the advanced track opportunities.