JCPS leaders meet with Louisville's NAACP branch to discuss a nu - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS leaders meet with Louisville's NAACP branch to discuss a number of education issues

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- How is JCPS addressing the learning gap between white and African-American students? That was just one of many topics at a meeting between Louisville's NAACP and district leaders Monday night. 

"It gives people an opportunity to vent, and they also get to hear from the superintendent, from the people who actually work in the system ... exactly what's going on," said NAACP Education Director Kathryn Wallace. 

Members had a number of questions, covering everything from alternative schools to minority teachers and Superintendent Donna Hargens addressed the gap between white students and African-American students. 

For example, state test score data from the last school year shows white elementary school kids are nearly 60 percent proficient in reading, compared to just 30 percent for black students. 

"Sometimes I call it the mountain, academically, that we need to climb ... but it will happen if we are intentional and deliberate overtime," Hargens said. 

JCPS says the graduation rate for African-American students is up, as well as the percentage of African-American males who are college and career ready. 

Hargens also says early childhood programs are making a difference. 

"We're seeing some really positive trends in early," she said. "So kindergarten readiness for African-American students but also in elementary, an 8 percentage point gain over time. So we're seeing some progress." 

"If you look at what she showed, yes, there is progress. It's just not coming rapidly enough," Wallace said after the meeting. 

JCPS officials say they know there's a long way to go, and leaders of the NAACP say these meetings keep the dialogue open. 

"We need to keep these things on the forefront and these meetings do that," Wallace said. 

People also had questions about a recent study from the Bluegrass Institute, which is a conservative think tank. 

It said African-American students continue to fall behind. Hargens says that report only showed part of the story. 

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