The following are excerpts from a recent article in The Shreveport Times (LA) highlighting how a Louisiana school district is closing the achievement gap:
"Sixth-grade boys from Rusheon Middle School in Bossier City seem embarrassed to be on the stage during a demonstration about electricity at Sci-Port Discovery Center in Shreveport. But their eager stabs at answering the presenter's questions show they're engaged. They wave their hands to test a Van de Graaff generator, an electrostatic device that creates high voltages by accumulating large quantities of electric charge and causes one's hair to stand on end.
"'If I could have them here every day, it would be awesome,' said Sandra Weaver, sixth- and seventh-grade science teacher at Rusheon Middle. 'What I see is an excitement that is created here more than in the classroom. I see more individual work. They're not depending on each other.'
"Schools like Rusheon Middle that have racially diverse enrollments and students from a variety of economic circumstances are turning to extras like Sci-Port's PASS program to improve test performance among all students, not just white children from middle- to upper-income families.
"Three years ago, the No Child Left Behind Act focused attention on the performance of poor, minority students. The gap between those children and students from white, wealthy families is declining locally and statewide.
"Bossier Parish school officials committed money so students at all high-poverty schools could attend structured visits to Sci-Port all year. Several high-poverty Caddo schools also participate. Donors helped other schools sign up. Veterans provided half the cost for Rusheon Middle. Rusheon Middle goes one step further in attacking score gaps. Boys and girls attend Sci-Port separately because research shows middle and high school students focus more on learning than social issues that way, said Weaver and Kristin Takara, Sci-Port's educational coordinator.
"Adrian Gee, 11, has been coming to Sci-Port on school field trips since the second grade. Coming without the girls is 'kinda different,' but the exhibits are 'cool.' 'It changes from year to year. I haven't checked out Grossology yet,' Gee said, referring to Sci-Port's newest exhibit."
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