Commitment to Equity

BPS101 Equity Statement

We have an urgent and collective responsibility to achieve educational equity Educational Equity is a way of being, a set of values and actions based on applying the principles of justice. Equity impacts policies, practices, and pedagogy at all levels of the organization that results in every student learning and thriving. by ensuring that all policies, programs, and practices affirm the strengths that each and every child Each and Every Child is a valued member of the learning community. We look at students as individuals and not as a label. brings within their diverse backgrounds and life experiences Valuing diversity means proactively seeking a variety of perspectives and embracing the unique backgrounds and life experiences that each child and member of the learning community brings. , and by delivering the comprehensive supports Comprehensive Supports are needed to ensure that each child learns and grows. These supports should be delivered in a systematic fashion based on need and should not be dependent on personality, advocacy, language or privilege. , programs, and educational opportunities We aspire to remove barriers to educational opportunities and make sure every child has what they need, when they need it--equal is not always equitable. We will look closely at ourselves, our systems, and our policies and practices to ensure access to educational opportunities is achieved. . We at BPS101 believe that this is what each and every student needs to succeed. Success for each child is not a checklist or a line to cross; it is recognizing where each and every child is and growing them from this point--academically, socially, emotionally and in health and wellness. Goals should be about student outcomes.

Equity Journey Continuum

The State of Illinois has developed an Equity Journey Continuum for school districts. The tool will allow BPS101 to identify gaps in student achievement, opportunities, and support and receive a ranking on our progress. Additional details.

Equity Next Steps

Student, Staff, and Board Learning

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), “SEL can be a powerful lever for creating caring, just, inclusive, and health communities that support all individuals in reaching their fullest potential”. The Board engaged in a Portrait of a Graduate project during the 2020-21 school year to determine the topic attributes that the community values in its youth. The District is working towards a designated time and common lessons for students to gain social and emotional skills. All elementary classrooms have access to lessons helping students to develop skills around the five attributes that the community values for our students. Beginning this school year, all students at RMS participate in Advisory, a class period dedicated to social-emotional learning (SEL) and student-focused interventions in both academics and SEL. Students learn about themselves and others through lessons and activities with topics such as self-awareness, bullying, perspective-taking, and decision making. Portrait of A Graduate lessons are expected to commence in the spring of 2022 at BHS, and the staff currently uses a BARK system to convey expectations and report progress on classroom behaviors and responsibility. 

BPS101 Staff

Ongoing training and support for staff is needed. A collaborative team, Professional Learning Advisory Council (PLAC), is authorized to monitor and plan professional learning activities and training for staff. School Leadership Teams also assist in the planning of learning activities for staff. All staff have received mandatory implicit bias training, and others have received additional training on how to lead classroom conversations on controversial topics. BPS101 has had small groups of staff members participate in equity training over the years, but there has not been a systematic equity training plan in place.  Due to this, PLAC is in the process of developing comprehensive equity training for all staff.  PLAC recognizes that this training cannot be a one-time event, but rather it must be a long-term commitment to collaborative learning, reflection, and action orientation on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Board of Education

Through training and workshops, the Board will

Workforce Diversity

Commitment

The diversity of the BPS101 staff does not match the diversity of the student population, and BPS101 is committed to change. Reasons why diversifying the workforce is a benefit to all students, especially students of color, is summarized in the Illinois State Board of Education Strategic Plan (p28).
“Educators of color are also in high demand across the state. Research from the Learning Policy Institute shows that teachers of color boost the academic performance of students of color, including reading and math test scores, graduation rates, and aspirations to attend college. Studies also show that students taught by teachers of the same race are less likely to be chronically absent and less likely to experience exclusionary discipline. However, despite the increasing diversity of Illinois’ students to more than 50 percent students of color, the teaching profession remains overwhelmingly white and female. Importantly, while students of color in particular benefit from having teachers of color, students of all races report favorable attitudes, including feeling cared for and academically challenged, toward Black and Latinx/Hispanic teachers.”

Teacher Preparation Programs

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recognizes the challenges of a limited number of diverse educators. Their goal to prepare educators through multiple pathways will lead to an expanded hiring pool of diverse educators. The ISBE Progress Report shows a slight increase in the number of Latinx (from 12% to 14%) and African American (from 7% to 9%) of those enrolled in teacher preparation programs between 2019 and 2020.

Building a Local Pipeline for Diverse Educators

BPS101 hosted an Education Career Pathways event for current high school juniors and seniors throughout the area. Invitations were sent to BHS students who have shown an interest in teaching as well as students of color who teachers and counselors recruited for the event. Students had the opportunity to dialogue with current educators. They also heard from Dwayne Reed, the keynote speaker, and students also watched videos about Diversity in the Teaching Field (in Spanish) and Financing a Teaching Degree (in Spanish).
BHS added courses to allow students to begin their teacher preparation coursework while in high school. The new BHS courses allow students to receive dual credit for an Intro to Education course and clinical experience.

Recruitment

School districts across the state are facing workforce challenges. In addition to limited diversity among candidates for every position, unfilled vacancies throughout the State exist. Early childhood, special education, and bilingual teachers were the top unfilled positions. BPS101 will increase the number of recruitment fairs to recruit potential teachers.

Board Priority: Inclusive and Welcoming Environment

Board Strategic Priority

The Board of Education prioritizes fostering an inclusive and welcoming culture for all students. We want BPS101 to be a destination district for students by ensuring our system is inclusive and welcoming. Solid social emotional learning standards and a system-wide understanding of equitable practices will help identify barriers to learning and growing. 

Progress

As a part of its strategic plan work, the Board of Education directed the administration to check in on the status of their core priorities: early learning, authentic learning, and a welcoming and inclusive environment. These priorities have been guiding work for three years, and the Board determined that additional feedback was needed, especially from underrepresented voices.  

To seek feedback and engage the community around the Board’s priorities, existing data from available sources was compiled and a series of focus groups were conducted, centered on finding and lifting up voices that may not be represented in our current collaborative systems. 

Taken by thousands of students, data from the 5 Essentials survey as well as the District administered Tripod survey served as the basis of the quantitative data that was a part of the process along with information from the annual school report card. Qualitative data was gathered from 29 different focus groups and over 350 individuals, inclusive of staff, students, parents, and the community. 

A community engagement team was put together to process this data and identify strengths and weaknesses around each of the Board’s priority areas. Twenty-two (22) students, parents, citizens, and non-administrative staff participated in a five-part engagement process. During these meetings, the group processed the data, developed statements to identify perceived strengths and weaknesses, and then prioritized these to help guide future action planning. 

Team members processed the quantitative data and made inferences about how the results reflected strengths or areas of weakness in our system. Over 70 statements were generated by the teams that processed the data. These statements were grouped into overarching themes, and then the statements were voted on as to their level of priority. 

The group used prioritization criteria as well as their own experiences to individually rank both the strengths and weaknesses. The impact on student learning, the ability to impact systemic change, a focus on equity, the connectedness of the statement related to other potential improvements, and the actionability of the statement were the guiding criteria the group used in the process.

Inclusive and Welcoming Strengths

1.  There are many extracurricular opportunities for students, and these experiences strengthen the welcoming and inclusive environment and provide a sense of community. 

  • Student focus groups from all levels support the notion that extracurricular activities connect students to the school environment.  Staff focus groups also indicated that extracurriculars provide opportunities to establish meaningful and positive relationships that connect students to each other, staff, and the school. 

2.  Staff authentically connecting to students has a positive impact on the learning environment.

  • Local quantitative and qualitative data sources confirmed research findings that teachers make a difference in the experience of our students.  The 5Essentials survey (2021) indicated that 90% of students believe that they share a high level of mutual trust and respect with teachers. Overwhelmingly, students said that their teachers make them feel safe, respected. Confirming results were seen in the Tripod survey, which is taken by students annually, in questions related to “Care” and “School Climate.” 

3.  Teachers value a welcoming and inclusive environment and care about the emotional well-being of their students

4.  Students feel like they have strong personal connections and feel supported by their peers and teachers.

5.  Students feel safe in class.

6.  (Tie) School-wide initiatives and systems have a positive effect on school culture.

6.  (Tie)  All stakeholders expressed the helpfulness and importance of the activities that help students transition to a new school.

Inclusive and Welcoming Areas for Improvement

1.  (Tie) Staff members would like to see more progress in making the environment welcoming and inclusive for all students. 

  • Indicating a sense of urgency and a willingness to engage in meaningful change, more than one-third of staff members would like to see more progress toward making the learning environment more welcoming and inclusive (Staff survey, 2021). In focus groups, staff acknowledged that, while we are making some progress, there are opportunities for improvement. The Tripod Survey (2021) showed between 21-22% of students at RMS and BHS believe that their teachers are not aware that something is bothering them, which demonstrates the complexity involved in making all students feel welcome and included. 

1.  (Tie) Staff authentically connecting to students has a positive impact on the learning environment.

  • While an increasing majority of students feel safe in the school environment (68%, 5Essentials, 2021), and report positive peer relationships (99%, 5Essentials, 2021), some focus groups indicated that certain students do not feel connected to their peers. Further work is needed to improve student interactions during unstructured time and locations (e.g., hallways, buses, and restrooms), especially on issues related to racial, social, cultural, gender identity, learning disabilities, and special abilities.

3.  Inappropriate student interactions or conflicts exist throughout the organization, especially during unstructured, non-instructional time.
4.  Students are seeking opportunities to engage in discussions that broaden understanding of diverse experiences and opinions.
5.  BPS101 staff does not represent the overall diversity of the students they serve.
6.  (Tie) There are barriers to extracurricular participation for some students.
6.  (Tie) Parent perspectives and engagement is lacking from certain populations.
6.  (Tie) Some students perceive classroom disorder and time not used wisely, especially as reported by younger students.

Student Voice

BPS101 recognized the value of incorporating student feedback and voice into the decision-making process. There are systematic commitments to collect their feedback through the Tripod Survey, the 5Essentials Survey, Student Ambassadors to the Board of Education, and Student Focus Groups such as those used in the Strategic Plan Check In Process. Groups that focus on student voice and student leadership such as principal advisory groups exist at schools throughout the district. The Board and District also recognize the need to amplify marginalized voices that are traditionally underrepresented in decision making. To that end, student groups such as The Equity and Justice Committee, Pride/GSA, and Best Buddies play an important role in elevating the voices of the students. 

Student focus groups during the strategic plan check in process identified several areas for improvement. One theme was that extracurricular activities, athletics, and clubs are the cornerstones of making students feel welcome and included, and they provided suggestions about how the schools can communicate better about the student activities that exist at BHS and RMS

Another area for improvement identified by the students is peer disrespectful behavior, especially during non-supervised times. Leadership teams at RMS and BHS have put plans in place to remind and train staff on responding to reported incidents. All BPS101 administrators are trained in investigating all complaints, and each complaint is treated seriously. Consequences are assigned according to Board policies 7:180 Prevention of and Response to Bullying, Intimidation, and Harassment and 7:190 Student Behavior. A communication plan is being developed around a recent change to the Illinois School Code which allows districts to respond to harassing and bullying behaviors that take place outside of school. Schools have an important role in supporting those who are harmed by the actions of others as well as using restorative measures with those who cause harm. The purpose of using restorative measures is to teach personal and interpersonal skills they will need to be successful in school and society, to build and restore relationships among students, and to reduce the likelihood of future disruptions. The Bullying Policy is reviewed annually, and the next evaluation will be posted in August 2022 on the website.

Staff Voice

The administration will work with the Board of Education to ensure the district’s equity work is coordinated, monitored, and communicated. 

The District’s past successes at sustained and continuous improvement have come through its “systems of collaboration”. These District-level teams coordinate, monitor, and communicate changes in curriculum, instruction and assessment, professional learning, and district finances/benefits. While all of these teams need to be focused on the important work of equity in their decision making, there may need to be additional teams and staff members identified in the coming months to support this work. 

In addition, the District administration has identified the need to explore systems to engage staff members whose voices might be underrepresented.

Policy and Finance

Policies Related to Equity

BPS101 forbids discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, disability or national origin. Some policies related to equity include: 

Financial Resources Allocation Toward Equity

The Board of Education’s commitment to equity is backed by additional resources. The Board has financed the expansion of student clubs and activities. Student fees have been simplified, and additional measures have been taken to lessen the burden on families such as payment plans and a simplified fee waiver process. Elementary school supplies are now included in the school fees. Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, a kindergarten enrichment program was developed with more than 85% of families participating. Community access to pre-kindergarten programs has risen due to the increased numbers of students enrolled and the removal of the tuition for all learners at the Early Childhood Center.

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