Reflections from the Second Annual Northwest and Pacific Equity Convening
At the end of January, Education Northwest—working in partnership with the Region X Equity Assistance Center, Northwest Comprehensive Center, REL Northwest, the Pacific Comprehensive Center at PREL and with the participation of the REL Pacificat McREL International—held a two-day gathering for nearly 50 representatives from 16 governmental entities, ranging from U.S. states (Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington), to unincorporated U.S. territories (American Samoa, CNMI, and Guam), to sovereign nations (Federated States of Micronesia, including Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap; Palau; and the Republic of the Marshall Islands).
The theme this year was “Networking to Promote Positive School Environments.” The meeting focused on three major goals:
- Increasing parent and community engagement
- Reducing bullying, harassment, and discipline disparities
- Strengthening welcoming environments
What did we learn from this convening? First, regardless of our differences, the participants share a deep commitment to making sure that every student receives an excellent and caring education. This commitment, shared by individuals working in educational systems spanning nine time zones, was inspiring and will help each of us address the challenges we confront. A second learning was the significance of language and culture in promoting educational equity. Numerous examples were provided by participants regarding the importance of attending to native language as a way to honor home cultures and to transmit important equity values. We also discussed the challenges that sometimes emerge when certain actions that are acceptable in a home culture, for example “roughhousing” or teasing, may not be appropriate within school settings. This learning reinforced the importance of having deep cultural knowledge and roots in communities when promoting outcomes such as the reduction of bullying and harassment.
Excelencia in Education released a publication looking critically at the entire educational pipeline and the context in which our students are learning in order to better understand and inform decisionmakers about the multiple paths to success for Latino, and all, students.
Data about the current condition of student educational achievement establishes a baseline from which to measure performance over time. Data also helps stakeholders determine educational priorities for action or select reform strategies to improve specific areas of educational achievement. However, data are only as good as they are used to compel action. These fact sheets provide reference tools for today’s diverse stakeholders and can be used to inform data-driven discussions about their efforts to improve Latino educational achievement.
The Center for Civil Rights Remedies released a report documenting the disparities in the use of out-of-school suspension experienced by students with disabilities and those from historically disadvantaged racial, ethnic, and gender subgroups. The egregious disparities revealed transform concerns about educational policy that allows frequent disciplinary removal into a profound matter of civil rights and social justice. This implicates the potentially unlawful denial of educational opportunity and resultant disparate impact on students in numerous districts across the country.
Alliance for Excellent Education has created a series of videos, highlighting how five states—California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland, and Ohio—are implementing the Common Core State Standards and serving significant percentages of low-income students or students of color. The videos, which are based on interviews that the Alliance conducted with teachers and school, district, and state education leaders are meant to serve as a valuable resource for other schools, districts, and states implementing the Common Core.
Guidance from the Departments of Education and Justice on Equitable Educational Access for English Learner Students
The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released joint guidance reminding states, school districts, and schools of their obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential. In addition to the guidance, the Departments also released additional tools and resources to help schools in serving English learner students and parents with limited English proficiency. These tools include:
- A fact sheet in English and in other languages about schools’ obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students can participate meaningfully and equally in school.
- A fact sheet in English and in other languages about schools’ obligations under federal law to communicate information to limited English proficient parents in a language they can understand.
- A toolkit to help school districts identify English learner students, prepared by the Education Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition. This is the first chapter in a series of chapters to help state education agencies and school districts meet their obligations to English learner students.
REL Northwest released this guide summarizing the experiences and recommendations of early warning systems (EWS) throughout the United States. To stem the tide of students dropping out, many schools and districts are turning to early warning systems (EWS) that signal whether a student is at risk of not graduating from high school. While some research exists about establishing these systems, there is little information about the actual implementation strategies that are being used across the country.
The National Center on Time & Learning released this guide for district leaders and school practitioners interested in implementing a blended learning strategy in their schools. The guide details the current blended learning approaches at six expanded learning time schools across the country and highlights their lessons learned. Additionally, it outlines seven design and implementation steps for practitioners interested in using technology to personalize student learning.
Center for Promise at America’s Promise Alliance released a paper exploring ways to strengthen and expand re-engagement options for young people who need more time or different pathways to finish school. The paper is designed as a resource for educators, practitioners, community stakeholders, communications professionals, and policymakers interested in supporting out-of-school youth who wish to obtain a high school credential. A high school diploma is by no means a guarantee of success, but failure to complete high school is a devastatingly accurate predictor of lifelong struggle and unrealized human potential. If birth is life’s starting line, then high school graduation is life’s second starting line for success.
Although this report historically focuses on Black males (and state level data on Latino males), the authors highlight in each edition the systemic disparities that are identifiable by race, ethnicity, or socio-economic status impacting all.
Source: Region X Equity Center at Education Northwest, http://educationnorthwest.org/