Equity Plan 2019-2025

August 22, 2019

English Department Long‐term Equity Goal - Sep 2019 - Aug 2025

The strategic plan asks every department to set its own equity goal. The equity goal should be focused on how students experience issues of equity both in our curricular materials and through our instruction, and be able to articulate that in a consistent manner across department year groups and levels.

As such, and in keeping with the desire to see both curriculum and instruction benefit from a focus on equity, we propose a 5 to 6‐year plan to explore and understand equity as foundational to our instruction, and to evaluate, research, articulate, implement, and communicate equity concepts across our four‐year sequence to form a cohesive whole.

Below is a proposed timeline, open to modification as we proceed, and in keeping with the open and collaborative process we expect as an English Department.

Phase 1: Year 1
Timeframe: Sep 2019 - Jun 2020
Goal: An Introduction to Equity
Who: English Department Equity Team ↔ Whole Department

To begin the process of exploring equity in our instruction and the curriculum, we would first want to explore issues of equity in our society, and discuss our own experiences with equity work as professionals. The first year would be devoted to the following questions we would explore:

  • Why is equity work a necessity in our area of instruction?
  • How do students see themselves in our curriculum and through our instruction?
  • How do we feel professionally about taking on this work? What areas of the work make us nervous or uncomfortable?
  • How do we address issues of pejorative language that emerge from texts?

We would use activities from SEED, Beyond Diversity, and other programs to first ground us in some experiences before we would move into the curriculum. The process will include individual reflection about each department member's feelings of preparedness to address issues of equity in the classroom.

From this point forward, the equity goal will take two tracks: individual professional development and curricular revision.

Meeting 1: Institute Day 1 ‐ 08/22/19 "Defining Equity"

Objectives:

  • to share a definition of "educational equity" developed by the all‐school Equity

Strategic Planning Committee

  • to reflect on individual department members' understanding of equity work
  • to differentiate between "diversity" and "equity"
  • to reflect on what makes equity work challenging
  • to differentiate between personal and curricular equity work

Meeting 2: Department Meeting ‐ 09/04/19 "Introduction to Equity"

Objectives:

  • to explore why equity work is necessary in (A) our school community, (B) our professional/personal development as educators and (C) our areas of instruction
  • to provide a list of equity professional development opportunities
  • to reflect on how we teach texts with pejorative language, racial epithets, and the N‐word

Meeting 3: Department Retreat ‐ 09/06/19 "Introducing the "Race and" Approach"

Objectives

  • to present norms and agreements that will allow department members to engage in conversations focused on racial equity based on the Courageous Conversations mode
  • to present materials that help the group to explore and respond to the question: "Why is racial equity work necessary in our school community?"
  • to experiment with how we create a safe environment for students in how we handle text with pejorative language

Meeting 4: Department Meeting ‐ 10/25/19 "Developing Racial Consciousness"

Objectives:

  • to explore how race impacts us in our everyday lives
  • to establish an understanding of "racial consciousness"

Meeting 5: Department Meeting - 11/06/19 "Language and Its Impact"

Objectives:

  • to explore how the language of race impacts students of color
  • to establish best practices for dealing with racially charged language in print and the classroom

Phase 2: Year 1
Timeframe: Jan 2020 - Jun 2020
Goal: Language and Text Selection
Who: English Department Equity Team

The audit would focus on our standards for the classroom experience and the units of instruction, including texts, we expect students to encounter.

Objectives:

  • to identify books with N‐word, racial epithets and pejorative language
  • to develop a departmental protocol/approach to teaching these texts
  • to audit the current book syllabus in course committees using "Questions to Consider" and "Text Evaluation Rubric" in Re‐Teaching How We Choose Books in School

Phase 3: Year 2
Timeframe: Aug 2020 - Dec 2020
Goal: Complete an Equity Audit
Who: English Department Equity Team

The audit would focus on our standards for the classroom experience and the units of instruction, including texts, we expect students to encounter.

The Mid‐Atlantic Equity Consortium, in their equity audit materials1, identifies 13 areas to study when trying to evaluate the standards and curriculum from equity, evaluating each as Yes, No or Needs

Improvement:

  1. Are all teachers involved in curriculum development to meet standards?
  2. Are all students held to the same standards?
  3. Are their policy and instructional modifications put in place when students are unable to meet standards?
  4. Does the curriculum utilize print and digital materials that represent diverse groups?
  5. Do recommended texts and supplementary instructional materials reflect, as much as possible, the experiences and perspectives of different genders and cultural groups?
  6. Are teachers' classroom activities and examples multicultural according to race, ethnicity, language, gender, and disability?
  7. Does the instructor use classroom lessons to increase awareness and counter the past effects of bias and discrimination?
  8. Do the curricula infuse culturally responsive information into instructional approaches and prepare students for a diverse society and workplace?
  9. Are people with disabilities shown in the curriculum actively interacting with both people with and without disabilities?
  10. Is language used which does not stereotype people or groups?
  11. Does the curriculum suggest ways to examine the perspectives and contributions of people of color, and women?
  12. Are teachers encouraged to use and provide examples of materials produced by women, people of color, and people with disabilities as part of the curriculum?
  13. Is our book syllabus, and our ancillary resources (e.g. library materials, research databases, professional websites, etc.) provided to reinforce curriculum relevant to the experiences and contributions of diverse cultural groups?

In phase 3, we would ask these, or an adapted version of these questions of each teacher in the department concerning each course. From there, we would follow‐up with a series of interviews with course chairs and members to develop a more qualitative understanding of each course to evaluate where we are in terms of equity as we think about the curriculum and our practice. From the data, conclusions would be drawn about where work could be conducted to bring our various course committees into alignment with each other, assuring both an equitable experience for students while also maintaining choice within the curriculum for teachers and the ability to innovate and adapt.

Phase 4 Year 2
Timeframe: Jan 2021‐Jun 2021
Goal: Decide on a Vertical Articulation Plan for Equity Changes
Who: Whole Department

Once the data is available from the audit, the department will convene as a whole and analyze the findings determining a plan moving forward - either:

  1. A developmental approach, assigning the same standards for equity development by year group with only changes suggested to resources (texts and ancillary materials) in keeping with the level of a course;
  2. A differentiated approach, assigning some of the same standards to all year groups but differentiating standards and resources (texts and ancillary materials) in keeping with the level of a course.

In addition, all committees will identify current texts that require a sensitivity to language used which stereotypes or degrades people and groups and decide on a consistent plan for how we address that language within the curriculum. Professional development for this specific area will take place for all these texts.

Phase 5 : Years 3 & 4
Timeframe: Aug 2021 - March 2023
Goal: Complete a Vertical Articulation of Equity Plans - Levels 2e, 2 and 4
Who: Reps from Courses, Equity Team Members, and Librarians

Once the data is available from the audit, and a direction decided by the department, 2e, 2 and 4 level course committees would convene to analyze the findings. We would begin with these courses because these levels

  • include the greatest number of diverse students;
  • involve almost all teachers in the department;
  • concentrate efforts to ensure focus and completion of the effort.

The 2e/2/4 level committee representatives will use a vertical articulation approach to

  1. concentrate efforts to create a consistent and articulated series of equity understandings in the same format as the Course of Study;
  2. brainstorm better resources for use in presenting issues of equity in the new format of the Course Syllabus;
  3. discuss approaches for developing students' equity understanding through curriculum (essential questions, research projects, writing assignments, experiential learning projects, etc.) in the new format of the Course Syllabus;
  4. discuss the language and bias issues present in resources and the best practices in presenting students with a critical understanding of how to confront those issues, saved to the Course Resource folders on the G: drive.
  5. communicate progress of their teams to the full course committee of each year group.

The two‐year timeframe is an acknowledgment of

  1. how long it can take to research, read, and vet materials for inclusion in the curriculum. Changing a single core text can take at least one school year of a careful process from beginning to end.
  2. how long it can take for professional development in these areas to be meaningful and impact practice. If the process moves more quickly than anticipated in levels 2e, 2 and 4, then levels 3 and 9 will begin work.

Phase 6: Year 4
Timeframe: Apr 2023 - Aug 2023
Goal: Integrate the Equity Curriculum into the Course of Study - Levels 2, 2e & 4
Who: English Department Steering Committee

Once a vertically articulated plan is in place for all course committees and levels, the Steering Committee will integrate that information into the curricular documents of the department.

Phase 7: Years 5, 6
Timeframe: Sep 2023 - March 2025
Goal: Complete a Vertical Articulation of Equity Plans - Levels 3 & 9
Who: Reps from Courses, Equity Team Members, and Librarians

Once the level 2e, 2 & 4 level committees are done with their work, we will repeat the process with levels 3 & 9 following the same process.

Phase 8: Year 6
Timeframe: Apr 2025 - Aug 2025
Goal: Integrate the Equity Curriculum into the Course of Study - Levels 3 & 9
Who: English Department Steering Committee

Once a vertically articulated plan is in place for all course committees and levels, the Steering Committee will integrate that information into the curricular documents of the department.

1 Criteria for an Equitable School - Equity Audit. MAEC 25 Resources, Mid‐Atlantic Equity Consortium, 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018. https://maec.org/resources/criteria‐for‐an‐equitable‐school‐equity‐audit/ . PDF download.