The Alexandria School Board voted last night to ask the City Council for $133,016 to operate six pilot programs aimed at improving the achievement scores of minority students.
The programs would range from the use of computer software to teach kindergartners and first graders reading to a course helping 10th graders with note taking and study skills.
"There isn't any easy, magical answer" to improving minority achievement, said Superintendent Robert Peebles. "It's very frustrating. This proposal is a small effort, we feel, something we hope will spark what we are already doing."
The problem of minority underachievement in Alexandria first drew public attention last summer when Peebles released for the first time the racial breakdown of scores on the Science Research Associates standardized test. Results of the test showed differences of as much as 48 points between the scores of black and white students.
The funding request approved last night and scheduled to go to the City Council next week involves six programs that would be tested in several schools this year and evaluated before the board decides whether to establish them system-wide.
One would be an $8,100 study skills course for 10th graders designed to teach test preparation, note taking, listening, memory and time management skills.
Other measures included in the funding request are the computer softwear program for kindergartners, addition of a teacher's aide in the first grades at Cora Kelly and George Mason elementary schools, a plan to revamp the elementary summer school curriculum, workshops to increase parent involvement in three elementary schools and a study skills course to help prepare sixth graders for junior high.
The board voted 5 to 4 to exclude from the supplemental funding request a $52,149 renovation of the computer laboratory in the career center at T.C. Williams High School, arguing that it would not specifically help minority students and should be included in the general budget request to be considered next week.