Program aims to close "achievement gap"

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Students, teachers and others gathered at Eisenhower High School Wednesday to celebrate a program designed to narrow the math achievement gap between black and white students.

The program, called Operation Calculus, began after administrators noticed African American students in the Decatur district trailed white students in measures of performance in math. Now in its third year, the program includes a summer math “boot camp,” tutoring during the school year, college visits and other incentives.

“Once the kids come to us in the summer, we can teach them the material they’re going to have when they move into the next semester,” said coordinator Justin Hampton, who tutors and mentors students in the program. “We’ll go through a good half of their coursework in the summer so when they arrive in class, they’re not a deer in the headlights. They’ve seen it before. It gives them some confidence.”

Hampton said the program has 51 students, and he expects to have between 70 and 80 students next year.

Organizers said district data shows the program has succeeded by cutting the number of African American students who drop their honors math courses or who failed honors math courses.

They also said that, although the program is geared toward improving the performance of African American students, it is open to all students.

To view a short documentary film about Operation Calculus, click here.

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