It's an effort to create a Lawrence solution to a national problem.
School district leaders have partnered with the NAACP to study what is known as "the achievement gap" - the lower overall academic performance by students of certain races or whose families are economically disadvantaged.
A committee that has been studying the problem locally now is poised to take action.
"I think we're all at the point where I think we need to be able to identify some intervention, some system of addressing this," said Bruce Passman, the deputy superintendent of Lawrence schools. "We can't just keep talking about it. We've got to take action."
Donna Bell, president of the Lawrence-Douglas County branch of the NAACP, said district administrators have been open about sharing data and working on the committee to identify strategies.
"What we have found in a very simple way is that our students of color generally are not performing at the proficiency levels that our majority students are performing," she said.
According to state test results for 2006-2007, students whose families qualify for free or reduced-price lunches at each of Lawrence's four junior high schools did not meet either reading or math proficiency standards. Also, black students at South Junior High School did not meet math and reading standards. White students there also did not meet math standards.
Black students at West Junior High School did not meet math goals.
After months of fact-finding, Bell and Passman said, the committee likely will begin in January to develop more specific ways to combat the problem.
Bell thinks it might be worth looking at mentoring programs and more tutoring programs, both during and after school. She also said the committee would like to get students' opinions, too.
Passman said one key could be the district's new Measures of Academic Progress system, which tests and tracks how each student performs annually. State assessments aren't given to all students every year.
Lawrence isn't alone. Nationally, grades, standardized test scores and graduation rates can be associated with the gap, according to studies compiled by the Editorial Projects in Education's Research Center.
For Lawrence administrators, the meetings with the NAACP members also provide a chance to gain a community perspective on a "long-term project," said Kevin Harrell, the district's division director for student intervention services.
"Our focus is on trying to meet the needs of students," Harrell said. "Once we do that, we'll see the results in other areas, like graduation rates and assessment scores."