Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
African American Task Force Strives To Close FUSD Achievement Gap
By Myles Barker
Published 5 years ago on
March 13, 2019

Share

After attending high schools in Fresno Unified and Clovis Unified, Adonai Howard noticed stark differences.

“I feel like I learned more my freshman year at Clovis High School than I did the three years I was at Bullard High School,” Howard said. “The social life that I had at Bullard was better, but there’s a lot of things that I didn’t have (academically.)”

“I feel like I learned more my freshman year at Clovis High School than I did the three years I was at Bullard High School.” — Adonai Howard, member of Fresno Unified’s African American Academic Acceleration Task Force

Howard said she detected that something was wrong when she was just in the third grade. She found reading and math incomprehensible.

“I needed help, and didn’t know who to go to for it,” Howard said.

Fresno Unified’s African American Academic Acceleration Task Force hopes it can change the educational experience for students like Howard who, as a Fresno Unified graduate, became a task force member when it was created in October.

School board trustees approved the task force’s comprehensive list dedicated to improving student achievement among African Americans last week.

The move comes on the heels of the district’s approval of a $1.4 million low-performing students block grant. The grant should help close the achievement gap between African American students and their higher-achieving peers.

District Wants To Change The Current Narrative

The primary objective of the task force’s recommendations are to ensure students read at or above grade level and improve their performance in math and science, said Wendy McCulley, executive director of the task force.

Last year’s scores on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment show that the district’s African American students scored 105.6 points below standard in math and 71.3 points below standard in English Language Arts. In the state, African Americans scored 51.8 points below standard in English Language Arts and 91.5 points below standard in math.

The task force also aims to increase high school graduation rates and improve the percentage of African Americans who are college and career ready.

The latest results on the California School Dashboard show that 27.1 percent of black students in Fresno Unified are prepared compared to 21.2 percent of black students in the state.

Strengthening Partnerships Is Key

The main way the task force plans to accomplish those goals is by strengthening partnerships and engagement between African American family members, teachers, staff and administrators at school sites, said McCulley.

“The task force agreed that an inclusive model of family engagement is essential to improving the academic outcomes of African American students,” she said.

Increasing access to more programs such as GATE and early learning opportunities, as well as hiring more African American teachers, are other goals, McCulley said.

“I don’t speak much about myself in this work, but this is very personal for me because I am one of our kids,” McCulley said. “I grew up in one of the poorest zip codes in the United States, but because of the power of education, I stand before you now with Ivy League degrees.”

“I don’t speak much about myself in this work, but this is very personal for me because I am one of our kids.” — Wendy McCulley, executive director of the African American Academic Acceleration Task Force

Superintendent Impressed by Community Support

Superintendent Bob Nelson said he is hopeful McCulley and her team will succeed: “I am just inspired with hope because there are so many community members who want to do something different.”

Kehinde Solwazi has attended school board meetings since 1989 and has left many times frustrated after hearing reports on the poor academic performance of African American students.

However, at the board’s last meeting, Solwazi left satisfied.

“This is my first time coming here being very pleased on a way we can transform the educational product of our children,” said Solwazi, who is Professor Emeritus of African American Studies at Fresno City College.

Since the task force started last year, it has prompted Howard to re-evaluate her goals.

“I thank the task force for that because they helped me realize my worth, they helped me realize what I can be, and my true passion, which is educating the youth,” said Howard, who will re-enroll into Fresno City College next semester.

McCulley said the task force will work on an official rollout plan through the end of the year.

Learn More About The Program

DON'T MISS

How California Legislators Got More Than $1.4 Million in Travel and Gifts in 2023

DON'T MISS

‘Digital Democracy’ Project Penetrates California’s Opaque Political Processes

DON'T MISS

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

DON'T MISS

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

DON'T MISS

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

DON'T MISS

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

DON'T MISS

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

DON'T MISS

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

DON'T MISS

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

DON'T MISS

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

UP NEXT

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

UP NEXT

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

UP NEXT

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

UP NEXT

Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search

UP NEXT

From Tragedy to Triumph: The Land Before Time Litter’s Journey

UP NEXT

Several Writers Decline Recognition From PEN America in Protest Over Its Israel-Hamas War Stance

UP NEXT

US Consumer Sentiment Falls Slightly as Outlook for Inflation Worsens

UP NEXT

Tennessee Lawmakers Send Bill to Ban First-Cousin Marriages to Governor

UP NEXT

Instagram Blurs Nude Messages to Protect Teens, Fight Sexual Extortion

UP NEXT

Fresno Monopoly is Coming. You Have a Chance to Make It Your Own.

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

1 day ago

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

1 day ago

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

1 day ago

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

1 day ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

2 days ago

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

2 days ago

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

2 days ago

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

2 days ago

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

2 days ago

Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search

2 days ago

How California Legislators Got More Than $1.4 Million in Travel and Gifts in 2023

Last June, more than half of California’s lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats alike, with no particular ideological preference — attended ...

6 hours ago

6 hours ago

How California Legislators Got More Than $1.4 Million in Travel and Gifts in 2023

6 hours ago

‘Digital Democracy’ Project Penetrates California’s Opaque Political Processes

15 hours ago

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

1 day ago

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

1 day ago

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

1 day ago

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

1 day ago

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

2 days ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend