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Doubts about ACC at Oakton School in Evanston

The Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board plans to take a closer look at its African-Centered Curriculum (ACC) at Oakton Elementary School in light of new data that shows a decline in reading scores among students in the program.

Oakton Principal Churchill Daniels, Jr., and his teachers in the ACC program told the board at its Monday meeting that the group plans to go back to the drawing board to determine what needs to be done to address the performance issue.

The problem is reflected in reading scores on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), which dropped last year for ACC students while it rose slightly for all District 65 students. The percentage of students scoring at the 50th percentile or better went from 68.2 in 2010 to 70.6 in 2011 for all students in the district, while comparable scores for students in the ACC program dropped from 35.9 to 32.7.

Acknowledging that the data did not look good, Daniels promised the board that he and the ACC teachers at Oakton would dig into the numbers and come back to the board with an action plan.

Even Superintendent Hardy Murphy, a stanch supporter of the program, conceded that he had a problem with justifying a teacher for nine students in the ACC third grade class, while dealing with Lincolnwood School parents who were complaining of a regular third grade class with 27 students.

“We expected (the ACC program) to accelerate student achievement,” Murphy said, “but the fact of the matter is that it hasn’t happened. We have to step back and reflect where we’re going from here.”

The ACC program began at Oakton in the 2006-2007 school year in an effort to improve student performance among black students.  It integrates historical experiences of Africans and African Americans into core curriculum and learning standards and features low student class sizes and strong family involvement, according to the district’s website.

Although it is offered at Oakton, the program is available by application to students from across the district.

 

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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