32 \ SCHOOL CHOICE, EQUITY & EXCELLENCE may be developed. Without a firm grounding in the structural analysis of bias and oppression of race and class in the United States, it is far too easy for staff to develop solutions based on faulty root cause analyses. −− While GCS has clearly invested significant time and effort in this work over a period of several years, the disproportionate outcomes by race, class, ethnicity and disability – combined with high staff turnover rates – indicates that more work is needed, requiring a long-term investment and a systemic focus. • Common internal school “systems” that appear race/value neutral but often produce disproportionate and inequitable outcomes include: −− Human Resource recruitment strategies, screening systems and placement policies and practices at the district and/or school levels; −− Student application, criteria and screening systems for AP/ IB course enrollment, magnet/ choice school enrollment, special education referrals, discipline referrals and discipline codes, Honor Society memberships, access to clubs, field trips and enrichment activities, among others. −− Financial systems, including funding formulas and human resource allocation formulas and processes. −− School-based fundraising efforts, including efforts by ancillary partners such as PTAs, Booster Clubs, etc. −− Maintenance and capital allocations, including access to current operational and instructional technologies. −− It is also important to review the data to identify the inequities that exist around racial/ethnic/ socioeconomic status and other divides commonly found in American society. Currently, GCS disaggregates data revealing inequities in student outcomes that range from scores on standardized state tests to disciplinary referrals and placement in special education. The data shows that students of color, students who live in poverty, and students who do not speak English are under-represented in AIG (gifted) programs, courses and magnet/ choice offerings, are over-represented in special education, and have lower scores in nearly all academic achievement measures, including CTE completion rates. While GCS has clearly invested significant time and effort in this work, the disproportionate outcomes by race, class, ethnicity and disability indicate that more work is needed. Conversely, students of color overindex in suspension rates, poor attendance, etc. In some situations, Black students who are not considered economically disadvantage achieve at lower rates on standardized tests than White students who live in poverty. This data must be reviewed and addressed with a goal of eradicating gaps and achieving equity. To improve outcomes, however, requires more than data analysis and stronger grounding in structural and institutional racism, as important and foundational as these strategies are. Improving outcomes also requires solid root problem identification, action planning and integration/application of the knowledge, skills and abilities honed by a greater investment in professional learning. For example, there needs to be purposeful engagement of diverse perspectives (i.e. in hiring staff from a diverse panel of interviewers) and alternative of engagement methods (i.e. meditation for problem students vs. detention). There should also be exposure to alternative teaching methods that may better engage diverse students. 2. Magnet Schools and Programs • Create an Office of Innovation and Choice whose full-time job is to develop, support and evaluate magnet schools and programs; and develop, implement and monitor the selection and admission process to ensure all magnet schools and programs success. This office would also be responsible for school choice and the development of new schools. • Establish a centralized process of admission to all programs including developing admission criteria for magnet schools and programs and ensuring that admission criteria relates to the magnet theme, is fair and provides for equitable access for all students. • Adopt a centralized electronic application process that is common across grade levels. • Establish a strong marketing and information campaign using every available resource to communicate to parents/community a clear understanding of school options, transportation eligibility, and application timelines. • Review magnet schools and programs that have had historically decreasing or low enrollments or are consistently low performing, and based on this review, consolidate and/or eliminate programs as appropriate. • Consider expanding magnet schools and choice programs that have more applicants than seats and those with waiting lists.
SCHOOL CHOICE, EQUITY & EXCELLENCE \ 33 • Consider the location of schools/ programs. Encompass attendance zones and geographic locations to reduce transportation costs. Make sure facilities can provide adequate space and are set-up to accommodate themes and attendance boundaries. • Consider whole school magnet options. • Provide professional development to teachers in magnet schools and programs to ensure they have the skills and background to implement the themes offered at their schools. • Articulate pathways and program continuation, where educationally feasible, from elementary to middle to high school. 3. Career and Technical Education (CTE) • Revisit the District’s mission statement to say “succeed in higher education AND in the career of their choice” and refine the strategic plan metrics to measure student achievement of the revised mission statement. • Establish a strategic alliance with community partners, including economic development organizations, post-secondary partners, business and industry leaders, the Chamber of Commerce, the Guilford Education Alliance and other relevant non-profits to guide the development of a career pathways system for students aligned to labor market conditions and economic development priorities. −− Work with GTCC and industry partners to set up PTECH high schools. −− Work with the Chamber of Commerce to expand upon existing programs such as Triad Workforce Solutions Collaborative (Guilford Apprenticeship Partners) and continue to strengthen partnerships with GTCC and local workforce development boards. −− Create a leadership position with a focus on Career Pathway and Career-Themed Academies to work directly with the chief academic officer, executive director of secondary education and principal supervisors to drive strategic planning and implementation in this area. −− Evaluate the structure and condition of school buildings and make necessary renovations to represent and accommodate programs adequately. −− Leverage the local arts community to create career pathways focused on the business and technical side of the visual and performing arts, and entertainment-oriented careers. These might include music, film and digital production, special events production, hospitality, talent management, business and entrepreneurship, safety/security, and related fields. 4. Transfers • Revise transfer process to allow a student to continue at the school until he or she to complete the highest grade offered at that school once the transfer request is granted to ensure assignment stability.