School Board members are focusing on equity in Alachua County, creating a plan to close the achievement gap for students.
This comes two weeks after a joint session between the Gainesville City Commission and school leaders. The goal is to narrow or eliminate the achievement gap between black and white students within the next 10 years.
The Alachua County Educational Equity and Outreach team shared its latest plan through a series of goals.
The goals focused on improving student achievement, increasing the number of black students in advanced coursework, raising the graduation rate, improving student discipline and diversifying the workplace.
Jenny Wise, the district’s executive director of curriculum, presented the data for many of the outlined goals.
“We try to really focus on the things that are going to be the most impactful and/or the things that are new that have shown us a lot of promise,” Wise said.
Data show some improvement for black students, in terms of educational success.
Still, some board members said there needs to be a greater percentage of improvement if Alachua County wants to reach its 2028 goal.
Wise agreed that a 2- to 3-percent increase isn’t enough to close the gap within the goal time.
She said, “I don’t disagree, I think when you have the largest achievement gap in the state there’s a lot of work to be done and time is of the essence.”
Among some of the most vocal board members on the issue of racial inequity is Leanetta McNealy.
During the previous discussion with the City Commission, she called for action. Now, she is asking for greater margins of success in closing the gap.
“When it’s not working and we keep getting the same outcomes, something will change and it will be an urgent matter,” McNealy said.
According to Wise, the Equity and Outreach team will continue to pursue strategies that members know work.
Wise said, “Whatever your race, you should be able to achieve at the highest possible level and that’s what we really want, we want there to be no achievement gap.”
Wise said the discussion they had with the School Board would help the Equity and Outreach team make changes to its plan.
“I think once we all get moving in the same direction, we will surprise ourselves with what we can accomplish,” she said.