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    Racial Equity Teams
    Posted on 03/09/2018
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    Racial Equity Teams are Working to Eliminate Opportunity Gaps

    The EOG initiative – Eliminating Opportunity Gaps/Ensuring Opportunities for Greatness – goes beyond measuring state academic test scores to include rates of graduation, attendance and discipline, among other measures. Our EOG work provides access and opportunities to historically underserved students.

    While school districts nationwide have been challenged in taking promising gap eliminating practices to scale, SPS has been relentless in our focus and strategies to ensure the success of each student within our school system. The great news is that we are beginning to see progress!

    • Graduation gap rates are narrowing
    • Discipline rates are on the decline
    • Students of color are making significant growth between grades 3 through 8.

    For example, Stanford’s recent study found our African-American students are making 5.4 years of growth in 5 years.

    While we are making progress, and we have many schools leading the state in this work, we still see significant gaps between whites and students of color. This creates the urgency in our work. Replication of promising gap eliminating practices across 103 schools is our challenge. In our Jan. 24, 2018 story, we shared the strategies we are using, such as Racial Equity Teams, to eliminate opportunity gaps for every student. Racial Equity Teams formed in 10 schools in 2015. The teams have now expanded to 42 schools.

    What are Racial Equity Teams?

    In 2012, SPS committed in Board Policy 0030 to close opportunity gaps and create an equitable educational experience for our students. The board recognized that decades of deeply embedded bias requires more than policy to undo institutionalized and structural racism. Institutionalizing racial equity in all schools requires transforming our practices and beliefs.

    Racial Equity Teams have emerged as one strategy to support schools in:

    • Eliminating racial disproportionality in graduation and discipline rates
    • Building the capacity of the principal, teachers, staff and students to transform their school’s policies and practices through examining implicit bias throughout the school system
    • Strengthening the voices and participation of students, families and community in developing school policies, practices and procedures
    • Taking research-based and promising practices to scale within the school's unique community context

    Racial Equity Teams are made possible through partnership with the Seattle Education Association (SEA).

    How do Racial Equity Teams work?

    The teams are led by school building staff and may include parents/guardians. District staff and SEA's Center for Race and Equity coach and consult with the teams. Established teams convene twice a year; new teams meet five times per year to collaborate and learn from each other at Saturday Racial Equity Institutes. The institutes provide teams with the induction into theoretical basis for racial equity, engage in reflection upon their own beliefs and action planning.

    Learning, partnership and shared leadership are at the heart of the Racial Equity Team strategy. Each school’s team creates action plans, staff professional development and coaching support to meet their school’s specific needs. Racial Equity teams work alongside Building Leadership Teams and school leaders to support racial equity professional development, equity goals within school improvement planning and other school-based initiatives in examining school and student data.

    How do we know we are eliminating closing the opportunity gaps?

    Academically, Seattle is a high-performing school district for many students but not every student. We have unacceptable gaps for students of color.

    The district uses data to measure how we are doing on standardized tests, graduation rates, discipline/suspension rates and school climate survey results. We also look at what is happening in schools where scores improve faster than projected. Those schools are sharing what they have learned so others can replicate that success.

    The good news includes:

    • Aki Kurose, Denny International and Asa Mercer middle schools are at the top in the state for gains made by students of color.
    • Olympic Hills Elementary, Rainier View Elementary and Cleveland High students of color scored significantly higher than the statewide average on the 2017 Smarter Balanced Assessment.

    Five of these six schools have had Racial Equity Teams in place for at least two years.

    Hope for the future

    We believe we can and will eliminate race as a predictor of educational success. We continue to learn what works and have some of the right ingredients in place already: high-quality educators and instructional materials.

    School culture matters, too. To that end, Racial Equity Teams are part of the efforts to positively change adult practices and behavior that we believe influences student success and ensure that all schools offer a welcoming environment and that students are known by their story, strength and need.