Measuring School DEI Initiatives with Equity Audits:
An Update from the 2023 Advancing Equity Cohort
SchoolWorks’ first-ever Advancing Equity Cohort (AEC) is nearing the end of a year-long, equity-focused improvement journey. The cohort kicked off in the Fall of 2022 with leadership teams from five schools located across the country, each with unique school designs and specific DEI goals. The experience will conclude in January 2024.
To measure the success of participating schools in elevating the equity of learning opportunities and outcomes, each school received two Equity Audits – the first in the Fall of 2022 when the cohort kicked off, and the second in November – January 2024. The findings will be documented and shared for the purpose of advancing equity improvement work across the education sector.
In our fall update, the schools were finalizing their Equity Action Plans and gathering meaningful investment in the plans by engaging key stakeholders in their school communities.
What do the DEI goals in the Equity Action Plans look like?
Each AEC school’s unique goals align to their established mission, vision, and core values. The goals reflect a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and include effective metrics to measure interim progress towards those goals.
One AEC school developed an equity-focused version of SMART goals – what they call “SMARTIE” goals (Strategic, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, Time-bound, Inclusive, and Equitable). The school’s Instructional Team embedded these goals into the school’s Equity Action Plan. With stakeholder support, the school team has now made the SMARTIE goals an official part of the school’s observation process – the goals will be implemented and regularly revisited at both the individual teacher and Instructional Team levels. Additionally, the Director of Academics has expressed a strong commitment to the process of setting and accomplishing the Equity Action Plan goals, and under their guidance, the school will stay focused on their time-bound benchmark measures.
When asked to identify what still needs improvement to achieve the goals of the Equity Action Plan, the team noted they will need to expand the goal-setting process across additional teams at the school. Currently, the Leadership Team and Instructional Team are on board. Goal-setting and monitoring takes time and in-depth conversations in order to solidify school-wide buy-in. They are continuing their efforts to prioritize moving the needle in these group discussions by dedicating time to their Equity Action Plan in school-wide meetings.
Another school’s Equity Action Plan includes a goal to create a wellness space for all students and staff that is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The school’s wellness space will be a dedicated room for staff and students to enjoy some quiet time, escape from the noise of the school, and provide a safe space to pray/meditate, if they so choose. With stakeholder support in place, the wellness space construction began at the end of Summer 2023. The school team is utilizing ideas and suggestions from a staff survey to ensure the wellness space meets inclusivity expectations.
What happens next for the AEC?
By January 2024, all of the AEC schools will have met the following goals:
- They will have engaged in a collaborative process to clarify and reaffirm their mission and vision reflecting a strong commitment to DEI.
- They will have established an individual school goal with stakeholder input aimed in advancing the school’s commitment to DEI.
- They will have established multiple benchmark measures which provide ongoing feedback about the school’s progress toward their goal.
- They will have a written action plan for implementing their DEI goals and will utilize their benchmark assessment to ensure the efforts are on track and having a positive impact on the student experience.
As the cohort concludes in January 2024, we look forward to analyzing their process, distilling their work, and ultimately sharing the learning from this equity-driven experience with the larger community.
Interested in Joining an Equity-Focused Cohort?
In 2024, SchoolWorks is planning to establish and facilitate a limited number of Advancing Equity Cohorts in key districts/regions. If you are interested in learning more, reach out to us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a quick call with our team. We look forward to meeting you and learning about your challenges.
Share and Learn with the AEC
If you’re a school leader, SchoolWorks invites you to complete our free Equity Assessment Survey. Based on SchoolWorks’ Equity Audit Protocol, the survey is designed to help you think through the effectiveness of your current systems, policies, and processes in providing an equitable learning environment for all students.
How Does Your School Compare?
To view the insights and feedback we have collected to date (and consider your school in comparison), check out our Equity Assessment Response Dashboard.
Let’s keep growing!
For information on SchoolWorks equity-focused supports, please reach out to us at email@example.com.