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Higher marks sought for minorities

East Lincoln High School has started a new program focusing on the success of its minority student population.
The goal of the Diversity Awareness Program is to raise the grades and test scores of minority students who have typically scored below their peers.
“We just made the hard decision to face up to where we are and try to fix it,” said Todd Black, principal of East Lincoln High.
The newly created club welcomes all at risk students, or students on the verge of dropping out, but the focus is on the black population, which makes up 15 percent of the school.
“I do know the data says of all subgroups that take the SAT that African Americans are at the bottom,” said Black.
These students also trail behind their peers on End of Course tests, scoring 30 to 40 percent lower than the average of other students.
To stop these trends, staff at the school invited minority students and their parents to a meeting on Tuesday night. Approximately 60 people attended.
“I was really overwhelmed,” said Lisa Frazier, a teacher at the school and a co-founder of the program. “I had been praying all day that we would have 10.”
Parents who attended were encouraged to become involved in their children’s academic lives.
“They had no idea of the wide gap that was between minority students and other students,” said Frazier.
Parents also learned about Advanced Placement classes having weighted grades and how students can benefit from re-taking the SAT.
Frazier believes that discussing these matters with parents is the first step towards the success of their children.
“I know how important it is to have parent support,” said Frazier. “They shouldn’t come over here only when there’s trouble.”
Parents who came to the meeting on Tuesday night were encouraged to have lunch with their children at school and sit in on classes.
They may also attend other meetings put together to promote the Diversity Awareness Program.
Plans for the program include tutoring, SAT prep courses, volunteer work and trips to cultural events.
Those in charge of the effort hope to get the community involved as much as possible. They also expect participation from student’s families.
“It starts at home,” said Frazier. “We can’t make kids behave here. We can’t have a wand we can wave and say ‘Here’s your morals- take them.’”
Frazier and Black both believe that those students who score below average are not necessarily less intelligent than their peers.
Instead, they just need encouragement from teachers and family. That said, no one’s planning on coddling them.
“There should be no more excuses,” said Frazier. “There’s a great big world out there, and no matter what, you’re going to have to deal with it.”by Sarah Grano

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