Determining Programmatic Equity
Researchers agree that closing the achievement gap requires both school improvement strategies and social equity initiatives. This activity is a team investigation to discover the quality of your school culture for each of your students. Investigation into the implementation of five “typical” school programs or processes will indicate whether inequities exist for some of the students in your school culture.
Reading: “Programmatic Equity,” Using Equity Audits to Create Equitable and Excellent Schools (Corwin Press), pp. 41–47.
A. Randomly select staff members to participate in five teams. These teams should not be developed based on departments. Each group will investigate and collect data for one of these school program areas:
- Special education
- Gifted and talented
- Bilingual education
- Rewards and Recognition
Do not dissolve a team the members are researching because the subgroup is small or nonexistent until you do your homework. Be sure you do not have students who may be struggling but are unidentified as a member of a program. For example, you may have students who are in homes where English is not the first spoken language, but who are not identified in the bilingual program. Remember, you are collecting data for each student, so a program should be examined even if the number of students within that program is small.
B. Instruct all team members to read Chapter 5 as a background for identifying data points and gathering data for their team assignment. Provide each group with demographics of the total school population and of each subgroup with summative test results. Also make available demographics of the full school teaching staff, including median years of experience and education attainment.
C. Ask each group to prepare the following data for their area: student demographics (see Tables 5.1 and 5.2) including gender, and staff demographics, including median teaching experience and education for teachers in each of the first three groups. Include student data by ethnicity, income, and gender for each of the two last groups.
D. Use these discussion prompts for each program area:
- What is the process for identifying students who need special education designation and/or academic support?
- What are the demographics (ethnic, income, gender, etc.) of your special education population? (See Table 5.1.)
- When compared to the demographics of the full school, do your local school special education demographics identify under- or over-representation of any student subgroups in your population? (See Table 5.1)
- What percentage of your special education students are included 100% in regular classes, what percentage are partially included, and what percent are fully contained?
- Is your school adequately and flexibly staffed so your special education students feel supported in inclusion and in contained classes?
- What percentage of planning time is spent in collaboration between special education staff and content-area teachers?
- What factors determine testing accommodations for special education students in your school? What curricular and cocurricular data need to be gathered to determine accommodations for each special education student?
Gifted and Talented
- How and when does your district identify gifted and talented students?
- Compare the summative test results of identified gifted students with your highest school scores. Have you identified students not formally selected for gifted classes but capable of academic advancement?
- Sample the demographics of your gifted and talented, honors, Advanced Placement®, etc. classes and compare the data with the demographics of the full school. How do the ethnicity, income, and gender (and additional subgroups) compare with the demographics of the full school?
- Does the selection process that identifies students capable of academic acceleration at your school need review and updating?
- Using school demographics and special education subgroup demographics, is there comparatively under- or over-representation of ELL students (language minority or ethnic subgroups) designated as special education? (See Table 5.1.)
- Are ELL students included in some or all mainstream classes based on their skills in each content area?
- What percentage of your ELL students are included completely in regular classes and partially included in selected academic classes with and without additional academic support?
- What percentage of your ELL students are fully contained and for what length of time?
- Is your school adequately and flexibly staffed so your ELL students feel supported in beginning and con-tinuing inclusion classes in the content area?
- What percentage of your ELL students has personalized learning plans?
- What percentage of planning time is spent in collaboration between ESL staff and content-area teachers?
- What factors determine testing accommodations for ELL students in your school?
- What data need to be gathered to determine accommodations for each ELL student?
- Sample your data at different times of the day. How do the ethnicity, income, and gender data of students awaiting disciplinary action as well as those identified for suspension match the demographics of the full school?
- Do the data for in-school and out-of-school suspensions match each other? Do the data match the demographics of the full school?
- How well does the academic achievement of the subgroups identified for suspension match the demographics of the student body?
- What are the implications for your discipline process?
Rewards and Recognition
- Who are you rewarding and recognizing for appropriate behavior? What are the areas in which you recognize students (attendance, grades) and what subgroups are represented in your honor organizations, honor roll, etc.?
- What subgroups are represented on your school honor roll and in what percentages? Are the data consistent with school demographics?
- What percentage of your teachers have an opportunity to nominate students for recognition?
- How do you advertise and recognize positive student achievement and behavior? In what percentages are each subgroup involved?
E. After gathering data and supporting discussions with program data, each group summarizes their discussion and supporting data along with the consensus conclusions about equities and inequities in their school program.
F. Debrief this activity by having each group share data, discussion summaries, and consensus conclusions with the entire faculty. The faculty should discuss the group consensus and accept or reject the conclusion based on data.
G. Determine next steps based on faculty consensus of each program. Remember, planning tools for Implementation of Initiatives are available in Module 1.