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May 13, 2009 > Delta Day seeks solutions to academic achievement gap

Delta Day seeks solutions to academic achievement gap

By Miriam G. Mazliach

Nationwide, African American students fall below a basic level of accomplishment in subjects such as language arts and math, according to research disseminated from the Hayward Unified School District. To combat this trend, the district is conducting an educational forum to address the achievement gap. The hope is that suggestions and solutions can be developed to respond to this issue for overall student growth and success.

"Delta Day at HUSD" will take place on Thursday, May 14, and is co-sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. According to Joan Frierson, president of the Hayward Tri-Cities chapter, "We have many members who are either educators or whose children go to Hayward schools. By bringing attention to the disparity in academic achievement, particularly among African American students, we can uncover the barriers to success."

District Public Information Officer Val Joyner adds, "Research done nationally shows that this gap was caused due to educators' attitude towards African American students, low expectations and watered-down curriculum. However, to combat this pattern, the HUSD has high expectations of all students and has developed a culturally and ethnically responsive curriculum, relating to students and current issues."

Dedication to improving the quality of instruction is an important component in achieving academic growth for district students. Hayward has over 20,000 students enrolled in 34 schools. Student population is 54 percent Latino, 16 percent African American, 10 percent Caucasian, 8 percent Asian, 7 percent Filipino, 4 percent Pacific Islander and 1 percent Native American/Alaskan.

"HUSD still holds all students accountable for meeting rigorous academic standards," explains Joyner. The district offers multiple opportunities for students to be tutored, providing assistance with the English and math sections of the California High School Exit Exam, which must be passed in order to receive a high school diploma. Additionally, the district has mentoring programs for students and support programs for parents, showing them how to be an advocate for their child in the post-secondary area.

This educational forum is the first stage of strategies to improve district test scores. Frierson states, "Delta Sigma Theta wants to help in the interest of all students. Through Delta Day at HUSD, we are addressing education in our area and bringing attention to the issues.

"Growing up everyone used to be involved in your success," she continued. "We believe in doing our part to help the community, by working collaboratively with the HUSD. We need to encourage communication with parents to improve their involvement and commitment. Empowering parents is crucial for our community. Success for the children means success for our community."

Scheduled speakers include:
Sarah Gonzales, Ed.D, President, HUSD Board of Trustees
Dale W. Vigil, Ed.D, Superintendent, HUSD
Debra Watkins, President, CA. Alliance of African American Educators
Lisa Brooks, Director of K-12 Systematic Alignment, HUSD
Christy Gerren, Director of Student Programs and Parent Support, HUSD

Delta Day at HUSD Educational Forum
Thursday, May 14
6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Burbank Elementary School Multipurpose Room
222 Burbank St., Hayward
(510) 885-8483

Free childcare will be available

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