How an equity audit zeroed in on ‘avenues of achievement’

Leaders in Framingham Public Schools working to close gaps students are experiencing

Conducting an equity audit requires administrators to take an honest look at the experiences of the district’s students, staff and community members.

That includes a willingness to “own and share” data, says Joseph Corazzini, the assistant superintendent of equity, diversity and community development at Framingham Public Schools, a Boston-area district that recently completed an equity audit.

“Schools struggle because they’re so afraid of bad publicity that they minimize the opportunities for outside entities and partners to come into the analysis provide perspective,” Corazzini says. “Schools have to stop seeing families and outside entities as barriers to growth, and see them as allies.”

Families, community groups and local colleges and universities can better help school leaders understand the complex lives of students and the impact of systemic and institutional racism, he says.

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Framingham launched the audit in 2018 as leaders zeroed in on closing gaps experienced by students of color, English-language learners and students with disabilities.

But leaders did not want the analysis to be so broad in scope that the auditors would have trouble coming up with specific solutions.

So, the analysis focused on “avenues of achievement,” such as which students had access to high-quality instruction, hiring practices, discipline and distribution of district resources.

“Think specifically about where you’re seeing gaps and then think critically with your school leadership team, with the community, with parents and students about the questions you have so there’s a place of clarity for the audit process,” Corazzini says.

District leaders convened focused groups of students, families, teachers, central office staff and community partners, and also conducted surveys to examine issues such as dropout rates among English-language learners.

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Another key to the project was embedding the audit into the district’s improvement plan. This makes specific district departments responsible and accountable for various equity initiatives over the next several years.

It also gives leaders a map for distributing resources that support new academic and social-emotional practices.

Since the audit was completed, for example, the district has ramped professional development in antiracism, he says.

All schools in the district also recently raised pride flags.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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