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NAACP unveils ‘blueprint’ to address Black student education achievement gap

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana’s NAACP unveiled a major initiative it calls a blueprint to help Black students in the state.

It’s called the Indiana Black Academic Excellence Plan.

The NAACP says part of the work outlined in the plan to help close achievement gaps includes mandatory full day kindergarten, eliminating high stakes tests as the sole measure to school accountability, and support cultural competency planning.

A collection of educators, legislators and advocates are putting their voices behind a plan to improve education outcomes for Indiana’s Black students population and the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP is leading the charge.

“State of Indiana needs to have a policy on the website that actually the notes that racial equity is a priority of the state,” said Carole Craig with the Indianapolis NAACP.

The plan, local leaders say, is the first step of many to get the job done.

Superintendent Aleesia Johnson of Indianapolis Public Schools said, “We should not accept as normal data that overwhelmingly demonstrates we must act with boldness and urgency.”

Four steps of the plan center around creating a good educational climate for students. That in part focuses on cultural competency.

Indiana state Rep. J.D. Ford, a Democrat from Indianapolis, said, “I’m glad to have this plan, this road map, this blueprint.”

Some of the 15 strategies call for mandating full-day kindergarten while offering full-day pre-K, providing equitable funding for academic success and support personnel, hiring and empowering teachers of color, and prioritizing district equity policies.

Shawnta Barnes said, “As a former English teacher, the thing that was most frustrating is teaching eighth graders who are at a second-grade level. If we put the investment at the beginning, we won’t have to spend all this money at the end remediating students in middle school and high school.”

While this plan specifically looks at closing the Black student achievement gap, if teachers don’t have the best practices to deal with barriers or situations students face outside of school, including violence or food insecurity, that’s another barrier, one not unique to Black and other students of color.

Although the plan is getting support from educators and legislators, state leaders will need to act to see it put into place.