Lynchburg City Schools "Community Conversation" targets achievement gap, other issues


LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- The achievement gap between different races of students has been a big topic of discussion in Lynchburg City Schools (LCS), and it was part of the Community Conversation on January 10 between the public and school officials.

"Do the special education children perform at the level that they could," asked Dr. Crystal Edwards, the Superintendent of Lynchburg City Schools. "What about the economically disadvantaged children?"

LCS welcomed conversations and questions at the meeting, inviting parents and staff to be a part of the solution to issues like the achievement gap.

"How bad do you all want these kids to be successful," asked Robert Flood, a Lynchburg resident.

The Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores in September showed Lynchburg's black and economically-challenged students performed well below average.

In just math alone, the 2017-2018 pass rate for Asian students was 91, for White students it was 82, for Hispanic students it was 77, and for Black students in LCS, it was just 57.

"I have seen this off and on for years, and we talk about this, but we know the problem," said Flood, saying he's never seen any action taken to solve the problem.

Residents say this contributes to other issues discussed at the gathering, including behavior issues, absenteeism, and the school to prison pipeline.

At the meeting, they started writing out suggestions on how to score higher with solving these issues.

Some residents have their doubts that the discussion will lead to concrete plans.

"Right now, until I see it with my eyes, it's the same old thing," said Flood.

Others are optimistic that things will finally start to turn around after years of just talk.

"We're gonna see a difference, we're gonna see a move from rhetoric to results," commented Dr. James Colman who is on the Lynchburg School Board. "There is a heart from the people who are here tonight to stay with it."

"It was a great night tonight, a great start at the work that we have to do, it's exciting work, and I just can't wait to move forward," Dr. Edwards commented.

The next step is scheduling small group meetings to put action plans in place after they addressed what's not working during the meeting tonight.

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