Equity Focus Areas
I. Culture – II. Curriculum – III. Instruction
Our students, staff and stakeholders bring their personal backgrounds and identities into our schools and creating welcoming and equitable spaces for all is foundational to the success of CHCCS. While the district believes addressing racial disparities within the district’s culture and in all areas of operation is a priority, we also recognize how developing a finely tuned racial equity lens will positively impact all students, staff and stakeholders who may be marginalized due to race, creed, color, national origin, gender, sexual/gender identity, class, socioeconomics, ethnicity, sexual orientation, cognitive/physical ability, diverse language fluency, religion, status as an English Language Learner, marital status, pregnancy, parenthood, or other characteristic protected by federal law. In Equity Equals Excellence, we address the culture that impacts our students and staff, and examine the ways we partner and engage members of our community; we address the curriculum that guides the learning in our classrooms, and make a conscious effort to represent a variety of cultures reflecting the diverse stories and histories of all students; and we address the instructional practices of our staff, and focus on research-based instructional strategies designed to meet the academic needs of all students and change disparate outcomes for students of color, exceptional students, English language learners and economically disadvantaged students.
Although curriculum and instruction are important, our biggest shifts will address our district’s culture and operations. Based on a review of historical discipline data by race, we will prioritize the social and emotional well-being of our students through expanding our work with restorative practices and developing a strategic plan for school-based mental health and systems of care. We will focus on families through community partnerships that offer wrap-around support services, and by leveraging the expertise of our parents through a renewed vision for Parent University. Finally, and most importantly, we will review our systems: student placement, recruitment and hiring to ensure our practices reflect our focus on equity. Using Race Forward’s Racial Equity Impact Assessment, we will analyze the root causes and factors within the district that maintain underachievement and lack of opportunity for students of color; and we will review our budget and finance processes to ensure our spending and our per pupil allotment aligns with our understanding of equity and preventing the unintentional promotion of gaps through traditional financial practices.
Over the past five years, district staff have adopted Understanding by Design (UbD) as our framework for developing curriculum and worked to create cohesive units that are aligned to state standards. To align with our equity work, our curriculum development will focus on power standards through culturally relevant units that prioritize standards and are aligned vertically across grade levels and courses. Based on a review of historical achievement data by race, two target areas were identified: literacy and math. To ensure all students have a strong reading foundation that will support their learning in upper grades, we will focus on early literacy skills through a structured phonics-based curriculum and partnerships with community agencies to prepare children in our community for kindergarten. To ensure all students have a strong conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts, we will focus on math by infusing math practices into the intended and enacted curriculum and exploring acceleration strategies that increase access to advanced (compacted, honors and AP) courses.
Through our partnerships with Learning-Focused and the Institute for Learning, CHCCS has developed a framework for planning and delivering rigorous lessons that infuse high-yield instructional strategies and common principles of learning. To align with our equity work, we will build capacity of culturally responsive instructional strategies and support staff in moving from assessments of learning that focus on student performance to assessments for learning that serve as a reflective tool for teachers. Additionally we will develop comprehensive interventions and use the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards to help us personalize learning for students in a digital learning environment.
After the objectives and action steps are approved by the CHCCS Board, district leaders will develop a comprehensive implementation plan. While each of the objectives and action steps are important, the proposed priority levels indicate expected completion of the objective.
- Immediate: Within the next 2 years (high priority)
- Short-Term: Within the next 3 years (medium priority)
- Long-Term: Within the next 5 years (low priority)
Culturally Relevant Teaching:
Culturally relevant teaching is a term created by Gloria Ladson-Billings (1994) to describe “a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes.” Participating in culturally relevant teaching essentially means that teachers create a bridge between students’ home and school lives, while still meeting the expectations of the district and state curricular requirements. Culturally relevant teaching utilizes the backgrounds, knowledge, and experiences of the students to inform the teacher’s lessons and methodology (from Learn NC).
Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS):
MTSS is a decision-making framework of evidence-based practices in instruction and assessment that addresses academic as well as the social, emotional, and behavioral development of children from early childhood to graduation. MTSS provides multiple levels of support for all learners (struggling through advanced) and aligns resources and support for students receiving instruction and for teachers and other support staff who are delivering the instruction. MTSS strives to ensure that practices, policies, and programs are aligned on the classroom, school, and district levels (adapted from Reading Horizons). MTSS provides layers of support within three tiers: Tier 1: Research-Based Core Instruction, Tier 2: Targeted Intervention, Tier 3: Intensive Intervention.
Personalized learning is intended to facilitate the academic success of each student by first determining the learning needs, interests, and aspirations of individual students, and then providing learning experiences that are customized—to a greater or lesser extent—for each student. To accomplish this goal, schools, teachers, counselors, and other educational specialists may employ a wide variety of educational methods, from intentionally cultivating strong and trusting student-adult relationships to modify assignments and instructional strategies in the classroom to entirely redesigning the ways in which students are grouped and taught in a school (from The Glossary of Education Reform). In personalized learning environments, teachers typically use multiple digital learning tools to customize learning pathways for students.