Superintendent Hardy Murphy said at this point the test scores of students in the African Centered Curriculum (ACC) program “are simply showing that these children are in some ways keeping pace.” He said, though, he believed the program had “enormous potential,” and that “it’s important for people to understand that their children can thrive in the African Centered program.”

The data show, on an overall basis, that African American students who are in the ACC program do roughly the same in reading as African American students who are not in the program when measured by the “meet standards” benchmark of the ISATs; they score lower in math.

The table below shows the percent of African American students at Oakton School – in and not in the ACC program – who met standards in reading and math on the 2010 ISATs.

                 In ACC     Not in ACC
Reading     73.8%       74.1%
Math            71.4%        78.6%

Ellen Fogelberg, literacy director for District 65, summarized some initiatives that are being implemented this year to enhance the curriculum. She said coaches will work with fourth- and fifth-grade teachers in the ACC program to improve vocabulary instruction and word study. This work will be modeled on the federally funded research project currently underway at Washington School.

Teachers in the ACC program will also receive professional development in certain instructional strategies to improve reading and math skills, she said.

Dr. Murphy said, “The difference in the African Centered program is that the curriculum is delivered though an ‘African Centered perspective.’ It’s about engaging students so that through this particular way of teaching and learning, what you get is greater engagement, more energy, more connection with students and the standards that you are teaching.

“This is the heart and soul of the African Centered Curriculum – a different perspective on the way the world operates so that children can have some understanding of who they are in it. … You look at the history of Africa and African Americans that have been a part of the evolution of progress in such a way that children can feel proud of themselves, where they came from and then in the same sense feel they have unlimited potential.”

Dr. Murphy added, that the students in the ACC program are being taught the same learning standards as other students in the District.

Jackie Muhammad, an ACC parent, said her children were learning about contributions that had been made by African Americans and that the program generated a sense of community. She said the program was benefiting the children, and that there are some priceless things happening that are not reflected in the test data.

Last year 99 students were enrolled in grades k-5 in the ACC progam for an average class size of 16.5 students per class.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...