Board Monitors Progress Towards Guardrail 4
At its May Action Meeting, the Board of Education monitored progress toward achieving Guardrail 4: “Our students’ potential will not be limited by practices that perpetuate systemic racism and hinder student achievement.”
Board members reviewed data, identified trends and asked questions regarding Guardrail 4 in a discussion led by Board Vice President Leticia Egea-Hinton. To learn more about Goals & Guardrails, please visit our website here.
The Board monitored two data points that can be measured quantitatively to help us understand systemic barriers that impact our students of color disproportionately. First, we noted the District is “on track” to increasing the percentage of Black/African American or Hispanic/Latinx students who qualify for Special Admission schools, and that the Board will modify Policy 206 to end certain requirements for special admission schools.
Second, the District is “near track” to meeting its target for decreasing suspensions of Black/African American students. The District has revised the student Code of Conduct to remove schools’ ability to suspend students for minor infractions, such as uniform or dress code. Also, the district will adopt an equity framework to examine systems and policies to ensure they are anti-racist and has established an Equity Coalition that will lead these efforts. Find a summary of the session below.
Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D., began the session by sharing a progress report that included the following key takeaways.
- The District is on-track toward increasing the percentage of Black/African American or Hispanic/Latinx students who qualify for Special Admission schools.
- A correlation exists between school location and the percentage of its students who qualify for special admission schools. For instance, schools in Center City and the far Northeast are more likely to have a higher number of students that qualify for special admission schools.
- The District is close to meeting its target for decreasing suspensions of Black/African American students.
- Black/African American females are suspended at a higher rate than their peers.
- The District revised the student Code of Conduct to remove schools’ ability to suspend students for minor infractions.
- There is a decrease in suspensions at the 110 PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) schools, and in grades K-2 where a new policy has eliminated suspensions.
- Schools with lower suspension rates have strong relationships between adults and students, and they have more engaging opportunities for students in such areas as art, music and robotics.
For more detailed information in this progress report, click here.
Based on the progress monitoring session’s takeaways, the School District will complete key steps toward achieving Guardrail 4. These steps include:
- The District will adopt an equity framework to examine systems and policies to ensure they are anti-racist.
- The District has established an Equity Coalition that will lead efforts to redesign a more equitable School District with a focus on policies, processes and practices that create systems of privilege and power.
- For all staff, there will be accountability and training on implicit bias, de-escalation techniques and alternative strategies to suspension.
- The Board will modify Policy 206, regarding admission to special admission schools, by eliminating certain requirements, such as the language credit for admission to a school.
- The District will create equitable opportunities for students to access academic rigor in grades K-5, which could require changes in the labor contract to provide more advanced opportunities in more schools.
- The District will ensure that all high school students have access to high quality opportunities and experiences by:
- Expanding supports and interventions;
- Targeting schools with disproportionate discipline data.
Follow Ups for Guardrail 4
At the next session to monitor Guardrail 4, the Board has asked Dr. Hite to share answers to the following questions:
- How many students in certain schools applied and were admitted to special admission schools?
- Was there a shift in specific schools admitting more qualified students compared to others? Is there still disproportionate representation across different special admission schools?
- How are substitute teachers trained on expectations around discipline and specifically suspensions? What data do we collect ,and how do we know whether our substitute teachers are in compliance with our discipline expectations?
The Next Monitoring Session
At the next action meeting on June 24th, the Board will monitor progress toward Goal 5 that focuses on career and technical education outcomes. We invite you to watch the session via the Board’s live stream here or on Comcast/Xfinity Channel 52 or Verizon Fios Channel 20.
The Board has been holding progress monitoring sessions since January after adopting five student learning Goals and four Guardrails, or the conditions that must exist to foster student learning and achievement. These sessions have enabled the Board to identify students’ needs and to adopt a budget that provides resources to the schools and students that need them. Learn more about Goals & Guardrails here.