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Minority gap widens at well-integrated Jennie Moore arts magnet

Posted on June 10, 2014 by in Education

Jennie Moore minority gap is wider today than in 2006, v2

Jennie Moore Elementary School for the Creative Arts gets “Excellent” state ratings year after year. But academic achievement by black students at this highly integrated school in Mt. Pleasant’s East Cooper neighborhood is lagging far behind its performance seven years ago.

Jennie Moore student and parentPrincipal Karen Felder and the School Improvement Council said “Jennie Moore students continue to demonstrate high academic performance.” But both Felder and council chair Jill Handegan declined to answer questions about why the gap between black and white students has widened since 2006, and significantly in some years.

They deferred comment to Charleston County School District spokesman Jason Sakran, who initially promised to “review” Local America’s numbers, but one week later still had not done so, saying he was held up by “end-of-the-year pressures.” Asked several times later when he would be able to complete his review, he didn’t return emails and phone calls.

Wider gaps in Jennie Moore’s English and Math scores occur inĀ  grades 3, 4 and 5 in all years between 2006 and 2013 — except for grade 5 in 2013, when black scores in English and Math surged from the previous year and were within several digits of white scores (see chart at top of article).

The Research and Data Analysis office of the state Department of Education said Local America’s assessment about the minority gap at Jennie Moore is “not entirely accurate,” contending the difference between black and white scores “has not changed significantly since 2009.” In a reply to Local America questions, the office said the change from PACT (Palmetto Achievement Challenge Tests) to PASS (Palmetto Assessment of State Standards) statewide assessment tests in the middle of the comparison period “may have played a role in these outcomes.” But the office didn’t provide any evidence of that possibility.

Jennie Moore School, dress-upResearch and Data said that Jennie Moore’s consistent “Excellent” ratings are based on averages of performance by all students, not by race. That means that higher white scores skew performance upward because blacks comprise as few as 21% to 33% of enrollment over the six-year reporting period. Since 2006, black enrollment has steadily declined at Jennie Moore, which, as a partial magnet, draws students from throughout the district.

The minority gap in the Charleston County school system is generally higher at schools whose enrollments are predominantly black. But black students perform much better at several schools where they account for most of the enrollment.

While national data often correlates lower minority achievement with high-poverty black and Hispanic students, that pattern is not so apparent in the Charleston system. Jennie Moore has a comparatively low poverty rate among black students, but the achievement gap with white students is as wide as it is at many district schools with much higher poverty. This Local America chart on academic performance by race and ethnicity shows which schools have high rates of free and subsidized meals.

Jennie Moore was originally a black elementary when Charleston’s school system was segregated. It is named after the longtime white secretary of the “constituent” school board of trustees that served black schools in Mt. Pleasant in the era of segregation.



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