We will ensure that our systems, practices, and policies are equitable.
In order to truly meet the needs of all students, we must examine the system to ensure that “how we do business,” reflects a genuine commitment to the success of all. From policy to practice, we must be intentional in our efforts to improve upon structures and decisions that may be inequitable and, where necessary, rid the system of institutional racism. Initial recommendations are listed below.
- We will conduct an independent audit of all policies and procedures, at the district and building level, to determine who may benefit from current practices and to whom they may be harmful, even unintentionally. Audit results and subsequent recommendations will be shared with the community. District and building leadership will implement necessary changes.
- We will expand early learning opportunities (i.e. expanded preschool, early childhood programming, kindergarten jumpstart, family workshops) to intentionally foster equitable readiness of all students. The Task Force strongly believes in the importance of equitable early learning opportunities for all children. Resources put into early childhood – including early identification and intervention, when necessary – will benefit students and be cost-effective for the district over time.
- We will utilize data teams and protocols in each school setting that reflect diverse populations and cultural competencies. School-based decisions will be child-centered and emphasize intentional, proactive supports for the learner, regardless of need. Independent analysis of meetings and decisions will be conducted periodically beyond the building level.
- We will ensure high quality tiered services are in place at each school, partnering with special education, to guarantee early recognition and ongoing support of students’ academic and/or behavioral needs. Special education and gifted staff will be included in all mandatory trainings around bias, privilege, and cultural competencies. Assessment and instructional materials utilized in tiered supports will be screened for bias. Identification protocols will be monitored to ensure representation of African-American students is equitably proportionate.
- We will promote further use of wraparound services, as appropriate, to better meet the needs of students and families who may require additional supports. Guidance counselors, educational support counselors, and school nurses will be integral to our efforts, ensuring that all students have basic needs met and can give appropriate attention to learning.
- Teachers and administrators will be held accountable for the academic and behavioral success of their students. Given these demands, we will ensure teachers and administrators receive ongoing feedback about and appropriate support in their work. Training will be necessary to assist administrators in accurately monitoring diversity “look-fors” within the Kirkwood Educator Evaluation System (KEES) and administrator evaluation. Additional changes to enhance rubrics may be necessary.
- We will work to add a district-level position in Kirkwood, dedicated to diversity, equitable practices, and training of staff. The district will also explore consultant and/or university partnerships, separate from the district, as an alternative to a paid employee of the district.
- We will work with the Kirkwood School District Foundation to identify possible donors in support of Task Force efforts and assist in closing opportunity gaps that may inhibit student achievement.