Alief Independent School District (Alief ISD), which has been a Curriculum Associates partner for the last six years, has long understood the importance of providing an equitable learning experience for its more than 45,000 students. However, starting in 2018, it took this work even further and made equity a top priority when it voluntarily spearheaded a comprehensive multiyear equity initiative.
“It was important to us to take a deep dive into our equity practices and make sure all of our students had access to the same opportunities to succeed,” said Ann Williams, Alief ISD board president. “We wanted to be champions in this area and address equity in a real and tangible way.”
After creating a common definition of what equity meant to the district, the district leadership team—including the Board of Trustees, superintendent, and administrators—launched an equity audit, which they believe was a critical step in the process of ensuring an equitable learning experience for all students. The district’s best practices in conducting the audit included:
Hiring an External Consultant
The district partnered with an external consultant, Dr. Roger Cleveland of Millennium Learning Concepts, to conduct its audit so it would have a firm, unbiased baseline on its current equity practices. “We knew an internal audit would not reveal any of the blind spots we weren’t seeing,” said Dr. Darlene Breaux, Alief ISD board vice president. “It’s so important to have someone outside of your organization examine your practices and provide a different perspective on what is—or isn’t—happening.”
Gathering as Much Data as Possible
During the audit, Superintendent HD Chambers and central administration, as well as staff and older students from across 20 schools, were all interviewed about the current equity practices at Alief ISD. This also included site visits to the 20 schools—including lower-performing, satisfactory, higher-performing, and specialty schools—to gather additional data and insights. It was important that the district cast a wide net when collecting this valuable feedback.
Using Data to Inform Next Steps
With the data collected from the audit, the district was then able to define its goals moving forward and work on a comprehensive equity policy, which outlines its mission, vision, beliefs, and steps it will take to eradicate barriers and provide an equitable education for all. This policy is now the district’s guide as it moves forward on a number of its equity initiatives, ranging from anti-bias training to reducing the number of in-school and out-of-school suspensions for designated ethnic groups.
“We’ll continuously collect and unpack data to make sure we are being strategic and successful in our actions and with our equity practices,” said Breaux.
To learn more about Alief ISD, visit AliefISD.net.
To read the district’s equity policy, visit Pol.TASB.org/Policy/Download/584?filename=AE(LOCAL).pdf.