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North Carolina Leaders Report Progress

North Carolina Leaders Report Progress
On Decreasing Achievement GapDURHAM, N.C.
Aconsortium of university leaders and education advocates gathered at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) last month to discuss progress made in decreasing the achievement gap in the state.
The group, the Historically Minority Colleges and Universities Consortium (HMCUC), was established in 1999 and has implemented successful mentoring and behavior modification programs throughout the state.
Thomasboro Elementary School is one of the many schools to benefit from HMCUC’s efforts, through a partnership with Johnson C. Smith University.
“Children at Thomasboro never talked about going to college … never ever,” says Mildred Wright, principal of Thomasboro. “Now our students know where Johnson C. Smith is and they have friends and mentors there.”
The partnership with Johnson C. Smith helped students at the school boost their reading levels and also helped to lower the dropout rate. Before working with Johnson C. Smith, the school was the lowest performing school in the district and suffered from a 46 percent dropout rate.
 Dr. Beverly Jones, HMCUC executive director and dean of the NCCU University College, said similar improvements were seen at other consortium member schools as well. In addition to academic success, Jones says, the programs and partnerships helped to increase participation of parents, provide access to computers for both students and parents, and increase the number of minority teachers.
Despite the progress made in closing the achievement gap, North Carolina has faced a tough year in regards to education, Michael Ward, state superintendent of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, told the group.
“We’re losing 14 percent of our teachers annually and less than 60 percent of high school students graduate in 14 years,” said Ward. “The dropout rates are remarkable. If Whites were dropping out at the same rates (as Black students), we’d declare a state of emergency and do something about it. It’s time to declare the state of emergency.”
HMCUC was charged by North Carolina legislators to solicit corporate, state, federal and local funding for its projects. The consortium promised to raise $20 million by 2007. Thus far, it has raised $1.72 million.

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