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At the Board’s Feb. 3 meeting, Churchill Daniels, principal of Oakton School, laid out three steps he and teachers at Oakton plan to take to address the achievement profile of students in the African Centered Curriculum (ACC). The program, implemented in the 2006-07 school year, was designed to provide culturally responsive instruction to develop a deeper understanding of the African and African American cultures.

The District’s achievement report presented to the Board a few weeks ago said there is a pattern in reading achievement that shows a “decrease in the percentage of students at and above the 50th percentile as students progress through the grade levels.”

On the 2013 ISATs, only 23% of the ACC fifth-graders scored at or above the 50th percentile in reading, which is used by the District as an indicator of grade-level achievement. In contrast, Lora Taira, chief information officer, said 44% of a group of low-income black students who were not in the ACC program scored above the 50th percentile. The results are similar to those on the 2011 and 2012 ISATs.

On Feb. 3, 2014, Mr. Daniels said he and teachers at the school proposed to take three steps to improve the achievement profile of students in the ACC program: 1) implement culturally responsive instruction throughout the school; 2) look for opportunities to mix ACC and other students during fine arts and PE rotations, and 3) look for ways to have the ACC students partner with other students in project-based sessions or during certain content-based instruction.

When asked how these three steps would improve the achievement of students in the ACC program, Mr. Daniels said these steps were based on preliminary discussions with the teachers and they would be making a more detailed presentation this spring.

At the meeting, Terri Shepard, a former Board member and advocate of the ACC program, said culturally responsive instruction was important because it would give students a perspective of their past.

Lloyd Shepard, also a proponent of the program, said the program was needed “so black kids can incorporate something into their mental capacity that enables them to feel as good about themselves as everybody else.”

Ellen Fogelberg, assistant superintendent, said she thought teachers were looking at “what does it really mean to provide culturally responsive teaching, … and what do we do differently for our kids to build that sense of heritage and pride of who they are; and how do we get that to happen across all of Oakton so it’s not just this little pocket of kids.”

Ms. Fogelberg said the District started talking about culturally responsive instruction in the schools about 10 years ago. “I think it’s time to revisit it,” she said. “There’s some new literature that’s come out around it.”