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Cleveland Program to Close Achievement Gap Shows Proof of Success

Council of the Great City School's Urban Educator, for Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Ohio

Story posted February 9, 2011

• In the 2008-09 school year, 62% of participating students advanced one grade level, compared to 43% of the male freshman class

• For the 2008-09 school year, just 9.1% of the first program class did not return, compared to nearly 40% of peers not in the program

In an effort to improve the academic achievement of black males and close the racial achievement gap, four years ago the Cleveland Metropolitan School District participated in a program sponsored by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

Since its inception, the Closing the Achievement Gap (CTAG) initiative has proven successful in increasing the num­ber of participants who were promoted to 10th grade and are now seniors scheduled to graduate in June.

The CTAG program targets low-achiev­ing black males in eighth grade who are deemed most likely to drop out of school. These include students who have failed two or more subjects, are absent 36 or more days, are over age for their current grade level and/or have been suspended five or more days from school.

The program works in collaboration with parents, school administrators, princi­pals, teachers and the community. Mentors, called linkage coordinators, are employed by the district to build relationships with students and monitor their academic, social and emotional issues. And academic tutor­ing is provided to students to help them pass all five parts of the Ohio Graduation Test and position them to graduate from high school.

A preliminary evaluation of the program revealed that for the 2008-2009 school year, 62 percent of the participating students had advanced one grade level, compared to 43 percent of the rest of the male freshman class. In addition, only 9.1 percent of the first CTAG class did not return to school in the 2008-2009 school year, compared to nearly 40 percent of students not in the program.

Initially, the CTAG program was funded under a two-year state grant, but in 2009 the grant was not renewed by state lawmakers. However, the district was so pleased with the program and its potential to increase the graduation rate that it sought funding to continue the program under the name of CTAG/Students of Promise.

The program received good news last year with the announcement of a $1.5 mil­lion grant from Kaiser Permanente. The grant will be used to fund the program, in­cluding maintaining the linkage coordina­tor positions.

“It’s important that we invest money in the resources that our students need most,” said Cleveland Schools CEO Eugene Sanders. “This program is making a differ­ence in the lives of the young men that are involved.”

This story was originally posted in the January/February 2011 issue of the Council of the Great City Schools' Urban Educator.  

Story reposted with permission.

Copyright (2011) Council of the Great City Schools.