At the July Revere Public School (RPS) Committee meeting a guest panel of educators went over the findings from RPS’s Equity Audit report.
For the past several years Revere has been working towards creating a more ‘equitable’ environment for all students regardless of race, religion, background or economic status.
Last school year, RPS conducted an equity audit with help from Mass Insight, a nonprofit that works with local school districts to help close achievement and opportunity gaps for underserved students.
“We’re excited tonight to be presenting the findings and recommendations of the RPS audit,” said Mass Insight’s Dr. Julie Shepherd. “We want to thank the school committee for their time, thank the members of the RPS community who participated in the equity audit process and transparently shared their perspectives and lived experiences with us. It is our hope that this audit will support all our stakeholders, leaders, staff, students, families, and community members to both individually and collectively develop an equity lens and build an even stronger foundation that enables all to see equity as part of their responsibility and daily work.”
Public Schools refer to equity as an assurance or guarantee of optimal access and opportunity for each person and deals with overcoming systemic barriers that have historically created negative outcomes for some marginalized populations.
“Our work kicked off in December of last year and through remote learning, hybrid learning and return in person learning in RPS in the last eight months we collected and analyzed data,” said Shepherd. “We conducted surveys and held focus groups and phone calls and then for the last few months we have analyzed our findings to make the equity audit report and present those finalists to the school committee.”
Mass Insight’s Dr. JoAnn Berkley said the audit found RPS’s commitment to equity.
“One foundational strength that surfaced from the analysis is Revere’s District Improvement Plan,” said Berkley. “This demonstrates the district’s commitment to equity through strategic priorities and initiatives. Another foundational strength from my data analysis is the district’s move to create the Equity Advisory Board and the district and equity committees at the school level. Finally the district invested into new roles like the Assistant Superintendent of equity and inclusion, and the Executive Director of data and accountability. The district has also taken some steps to build collective understanding about its improvement for real equity. Our findings for this priority area indicate that staff are eager to gain access to training that helps them understand, foster, and apply equity and inclusion. However, we also found that there is a persistent tension for the school equity committees overall implementation and structure. Lastly our findings discovered that there is not yet a structural space to support diverse staff in our workforce development and retention.”
Berkley said Mass Insight recommendations include defining a district wide professional learning for all staff to clarify district expectations and provide the learning opportunities staff need to create more equitable experiences for students,” she said. “The second recommendation is to align the staff feedback and evaluation structure to reflect district priorities. Both students and school staff indicated a lack of access to culturally and linguistically responsive curricular resources and assessment and named that as an area of development.”
Berkley added that Mass Insight has also recommended a district wide approach for supporting ELS and creating a system that places ELS in appropriate settings and courses so students not only develop language skills but also stay on track to achieve promotions and graduation requirements.
Mass Insight also suggested an increase in opportunities and access to internships, advanced placement courses or pathways to community and local colleges and trade schools.
“This is about the quantity of opportunities and ensuring that all students have access to these various opportunities,” said Berkley. “The second recommendation is to design an academic support plan to ensure that all students are on track to graduate and are aware of and supported with post secondary plans while improving at RPS.”
In the end Shepherd said as the School Committee continues to further the district’s vision to be an inclusive community of continuous funders in which all stakeholder voices are valued in tribute meaningfully to district decision making Mass Insight sees two key opportunities.
“First, during community outreach opportunities to share and discuss the equity audit or other district initiatives there’s an opportunity to reach a broader and more representative stakeholder group of families in particular by using district translators to support these conversations,” she said. “There’s also an opportunity to serve as experienced mentors for ethnically, racially or linguistically diverse schools, community members who expressed interest in leadership roles, such as equity advisory board members, or even school committee members.