Schools across the United States have been subject to a rise in violent incidents since 2013. Reading about school shootings, racist acts, and violent demonstrations in schools has unfortunately become commonplace, which is contributing to inequitable outcomes for some student populations. These equity gaps have triggered demands for more equitable solutions in schools, a responsibility that falls on the shoulders of stakeholders like school governing boards, principals, and parents.
Chandler Unified School District (CUSD), a large school system in Arizona that serves 45,000 students from preschool through high school, has been unable to escape similar structural and frictional inequities within its schools. One instance of a racially charged student performance at Santan Middle School motivated CUSD to take a more immediate look at equity in the district. It is during this response that our team of New Venture Group consultants engaged with Matt Strom, Assistant Superintendent of CUSD, in analyzing the important question of “how CUSD can take steps towards closing equity gaps within the district?”
CUSD defines an equity gap as any difference in student opportunity, achievement, discipline, attendance, etc. contributable to a student’s ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status. Currently, certain student populations in CUSD perform vastly different academically and receive different opportunities within schools, but as was our problem statement, CUSD is aiming to reduce (and eventually close) these gaps.
Our team approached this problem in three phases: (1) diagnosis, (2) solution creation, and (3) prevention. In phase one, we created a dashboard to help principals easily and visually identify gaps by toggling parameters on the dashboard. Phase two focused on the generation of recommendations for closing gaps. To achieve this goal, a knowledge of successful gap-closing strategies will be paired with the dashboard. In our final phase, the team of consultants created a principal scorecard to ensure equity remains a priority for principals.