Education achievement gap number released by Horry County School - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Education achievement gap numbers released by Horry County Schools

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CONWAY, SC (WMBF)  Horry County School Board members are looking for ways to close the academic achievement gap between the different races and economic status of students.

During Monday's School Board meeting, district employees announced double digit achievement gaps for African-American students as well as those receiving free or reduced lunch during the 2011 school year. The gap occurs in three different categories: math, English and graduation rates. 

Horry County School District Director of Mentoring and Employee Development Jackie Stanley said the numbers are a wake-up call for Horry County.

"We're going to have to have some courageous conversation," Stanley stressed.  "[Conversations] about issues we haven't wanted to talk to each other about before; race and poverty."

In 2011, Horry County students grade three through eight saw at least an 11 percent difference between students receiving reduced lunch and those who do not in percentage meeting ELA standards. This is a number that gradually trended toward an increase as high as 22 percent in grade 8. The trend is even more pronounced when comparing African-American and white students, starting with gaps as high as 19 percent in 3rd grade and increasing to more than 27 percent by 8th.

Among high school students scoring well enough on ELA exams to graduate high school, white students passed 12 percent more often than African American students in 2011.

There are a handful of schools in Horry County however, such as Socastee Elementary School, that have greatly decreased or even eliminated many achievement gaps. Which, is the goal for Horry County Schools as a whole.

Socastee Elementary Principal Deb Colliver said aggressive student intervention tactics helped contribute to narrowing the gap.

"We take each child and we look at all the interventions that we are able to give them," Colliver explained. "And the numbers came out on our side for [doing it]."

Stanley said the school district plans to hold a series of public hearings to get parents and community members involved in shrinking the achievement gap at all grade levels.

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