An equity assessment analyzes and makes sense of different types of data to (1) identify inequities in systems, and (2) address the beliefs, policies, procedures, and practices that contribute to systemic inequities. The equity assessment can also highlight strengths that improve academic achievement, student experiences, or working conditions in ways that uplift the most vulnerable student populations.
Austin ISD wants to have detailed strategies for how to better support historically underserved students. Specifically, we need to know what we are doing well and what we need to change so that staff and students have the access and resources they need to succeed.
The Equity Assessment represents the first time that a third party has conducted an overall assessment of the impact of Austin ISD’s policies, programs, and practices on historically underserved students. AISD employees and third parties have conducted previous assessments that focused on some inequities within the district, but the recommendations didn't make it into existing plans or processes. The goal for the assessment is to embed recommendations into existing district plans and processes, not add an additional plan.
- The equity assessment involves: the collection and analysis of data; recommendations; and planning for implementation. Tasks involved in each phase are described below.
- Phase I
- Austin ISD document review of existing plans and data analysis
- Community meaning-making conversations (similar to town halls)
- Focus groups
- Phase II
- Creation of district equity team
- Working sessions with the district equity team that includes root cause analysis and recommendations
- Phase II
- Report findings and plan for implementation
- Phase I
- The equity assessment takes 12-18 months to complete. The time allows for the district and its partners to ensure they are speaking to community members most impacted by the existing inequities in the district.
The equity assessment will incorporate both quantitative and qualitative data elements. Student demographics, measures of community vulnerability, how and where money is spent, and academic and behavioral outcomes are some of the data elements that will be looked at. Moreover, the team will document meaning making conversations and document focus group participant responses to help understand the data. The data will be collected from AISD via secure data transfers and through direct data collection (e.g., focus group administration).
In order for an equity assessment to be successful, typically a team is put together to implement and align recommendations. AISD’s District Equity Team (DET) is responsible for reviewing themes from the data analysis and focus groups and determine 1) recommendations for next steps and 2) align recommendations with existing strategies and practices (such as in the Long Range Plan). The DET is intentionally made up of executive leaders with decision making power so that the equity assessment recommendations move forward and enact change in the system.
- Students, families, staff, and community members are included in various ways including focus groups, meaning making conversations/townhalls; engagement at community events; and formal and informal conversations.
- Staff focus groups will begin in mid-January 2024.
- Focus groups for students and families are planned for early February 2024.
- Staff: Contact Sundal Ali at email@example.com or your school’s principal to receive a QR code or use this link to complete the focus group interest form (English / Spanish). Attendees will receive a $50 gift card! Food will also be provided for in-person sessions.
- Students and families: Contact your principal to receive a QR code or use this link to complete the focus group interest form. Attendees will receive a $50 gift card! Food will also be provided for in-person sessions.
- The assessment should result in improved support for strategic planning and changes to policies and practices that contribute to inequities.
- District staff will increase their capacity around culturally responsive data literacy, culturally responsive and sustaining education, and research-based strategies to correct inequities.
- Results from the assessment will be used to identify the beliefs, policies, and practices contributing to inequities in AISD’s educational system and to develop recommendations for policy and practice.
- The equity assessment will culminate in the creation of an implementation plan, including assignable tasks, task leads, completion deadlines, and progress indicators.
The goal is to take these recommendations and embed them into current plans, such as the district’s strategic plan. The recommendations will be focused on addressing systemic inequities, meaning they will be tied to our district-level policies and practices. These recommendations could impact funding, staffing, and student program access across the district so that resources are more equitably shared. At the end of the day, the recommendations are intended to improve student and staff experiences in the district, both in the classroom and at work.
WestEd is a national leader in research, development, and service. Our work is aimed at supporting diverse learners of all ages to successfully achieve their dreams. Equity is reflected in everything we do, from coaching and technical assistance to research and evaluation to product development. We operate with a particular commitment to populations that traditionally have been inadequately served or unfairly treated. Our staff partner with clients and others to reduce systemic inequities, eliminate opportunity gaps, and foster equitable opportunities and outcomes through all we do.