In an effort to address sagging black academic performance, Arlington school officials have released for the first time a collection of wide-ranging statistics that show black students far behind their classmates in areas other than standardized test scores.
The report, which will be used as the baseline data for long-term monitoring of black student performance in the county, shows a wide gap between the percentage of black and white students in programs for gifted students, in advanced courses and in their own aspirations for post-secondary education.
It also shows that black students have a higher rate of suspension and a lower rate of participation in extracurricular activities than other students.
The data was gathered, said Superintendent Arthur W. Gosling, "so that we could force ourselves to look at a number of things . . . . It's a way to keep our feet in the fire."
The report represents an effort to expand the parameters for evaluating black achievement, said school officials. Rather than focusing on test scores, black performance and the school system's minority achievement efforts will be monitored in a wide range of areas, from the number of black students in after-school clubs to the percentage who fail to advance to the next grade.
"Everybody knows that test scores are only one indicator," said School Board Chairwoman Dorothy H. Stambaugh, who said she was "disappointed but not surprised" at the statistics in the report.
The report, which is based on 1985-86 school year statistics, found that:Fifty percent of black graduating seniors, compared with 83 percent of all students, planned to pursue post-secondary education. None of the 17 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists was black. While black students account for 16.2 percent of the students, 4.5 percent of the students in the gifted and talented programs are black. Of the students suspended from school, 35 percent are black. Black participation in extracurricular activities is varied. At the elementary level, where blacks are 17 percent of the enrollment, they are overrepresented in intramural activities but do not join literary, music or drama clubs in the same proportion.
At the intermediary level, black students are active in sports, intramurals and student government. However, while they account for 18 percent of the students, they make up 10 percent of the honor roll students.
In high schools, black students are active in sports, intramurals, vocational clubs and school support activities. While they make up 14 percent of the students, 3.1 percent of the students in academic clubs are black and 1.8 percent in literary activities are black. The report shows that black kindergarten pupils in 1985-86 scored 41 percentile points lower on the standardized Science Research Associates tests than white pupils. Black 11th graders scored 45 points lower, up from 52 in 1983-84. These represent some of the largest scoring gaps in the Washington metropolitan area.
The study is an outgrowth of a minority achievement program begun three years ago by the Arlington School Board. The program began in the 1984-85 school year with $90,000 that created seven half-time teaching positions at seven elementary schools.
The following year the program's budget was increased to about $205,000. The seven part-time positions became full-time positions, and 60 students with basic skills deficiencies were identified at Washington-Lee High School and given special help.
The total local funding for minority achievement this year is about $372,000, said J. Boyd Webb, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
School officials said the report would help them assess future progress.
Montgomery County has been monitoring minority students through detailed studies for five years and Fairfax has been doing it since 1983.