Platinum Plan: School district to ramp up minority effort
JANESVILLE Janesville public school teachers are set to learn more this fall about ways to teach a growing number of minority students.
The Janesville School Board on Tuesday night approved recommendations that will mean more training for teachers about the effects of poverty, race and culture on students' learning.
The goal is to close the achievement gap that plagues schools nationwide.
Janesville continues to see increases in the numbers of minority students. About 23 percent of last year's students were not white.
On average, black and Hispanic students don't perform as well on state tests as white students do. Minority students are under-represented among students who are identified for special programming as talented-and-gifted students.
Director of Student Services Yolanda Cargile told the board that nearly 5 percent of students are black, yet only 1 percent of black students take the high-level Advanced Placement courses in high school.
Counselors will be charged with encouraging minority students to take the challenging courses, Cargile said.
The board approved the recommendations unanimously, with little discussion.
Training will focus on the weaknesses identified at each school through a new initiative dubbed The Platinum Plan, Cargile said after the meeting.
"All district staff will see an increase in accountability in regards to principals expecting them to be utilizing culturally responsive teaching strategies," Cargile said.
The idea is that teachers should understand the perspectives and challenges of students from different cultures, Cargile said.
The idea is not to place blame for past failings, Cargile said.
"It's about all of us getting on the same page to make sure that we truly understand the student population that we are serving," she said.
The theory is that better understanding will yield better results for all students.
"It's going to help the kids, as well as, I hope, the adults," Cargile said.
The key is building relationships and expressing a genuine concern for the students' well-being, Cargile said.
"Students have to first understand that the adult cares about them and wants to know more about who they are," Cargile said.