More minorities taking advanced classes, but how many passing?

The Indian River County School District says it is making some progress in enrolling more minority students in upper level classes, but it has no idea how many are passing.

The School District recently released a yearly, state-required “equity report” that lists how many minority students are signing up for advanced classes.

While the report shows a small increase in the number of blacks and a slightly higher jump in the number of Hispanics taking these classes, it provides no information on how they are doing.

The idea behind the report is to keep an eye on how “equitable” minority participation in advanced classes is compared to participation by white students as a way of seeing if the School District – which has labored under a federal desegregation order for decades – is helping minority students catch up in terms of educational success.

But the report does not include statistics for how well minority students are doing in the upper-level classes they sign up for, rendering it meaningless for measuring the progress or success of black and Hispanic students.

The School District’s recently-released equity report states 25 percent of the county’s white high school students took Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes, while just 7 percent of black students and 12 percent of Hispanic students enrolled in those courses.

On its face, the report indicates a degree of progress, showing black enrollment in upper level courses increased locally by 6 students – bringing the total enrolled to 63 of the 875 black students – and upped Hispanic enrollment by 40 students, bringing the total to 136 of the 1,128 Hispanic students.

That might not sound like a giant leap forward for minority students but it was good enough to help the local district gain recognition as “one of 425 school districts on the Honor Roll for College Board’s 6th Annual AP Honor Districts . . . for expanding access to AP courses, improving student performance and supporting student success.”

By way of measuring success, state records show 50 percent of the students in Indian River County taking Advanced Placement Classes passed them, which is close to the statewide average.

The pass rate here for the International Baccalaureate exam was 75 percent, slightly lower than the statewide pass rate of 82 percent.

But the state statistics don’t break down the success rate by race, and the School District says it doesn’t know how many black or Hispanic students passed the upper level course either.

When Vero Beach 32963 asked School District officials for the pass rate for white and minority students, the district said it does not keep track of those numbers.

If, as Superintendent Mark Rendell claims, preparing more minority students for college is an important goal, how can the goal be achieved if the School District is not keeping track of how well minority students are doing in college prep classes?

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