My instructional leadership program opened my eyes in the area of equity and social justice and I developed an intense interest around these issues . During the program, professors often challenged our thinking and helped us to become aware (or more aware) of systems of inequity occurring throughout our school districts, neighborhoods, and country. As a result of the program and my position as a district leader in science, I felt compelled to at least help school leaders address such issues in their respective departments. It is my hope that science teachers / instructional leaders go further than TAKS/STAAR and look at the following issues in our attempt to address the achievement gap in science education (sample questions/scenarios also presented):
- Teacher Quality Equity
- Which teachers receive the advanced or upper-class courses (i.e. do all the experienced teachers teach the PreAP/AP courses and the less experienced teachers teach the academic or lower track classes)?
- What does the mobility of teachers in your department look like (i.e., is it stable or do teachers frequently leave - if so, what are possible reasons for this)
- If there is a high ELL student population, does your department look for and/or encourage teachers to gain their ESL certification? Are ESL science courses taught by non-ESL certified teachers?
- Programmatic Equity
- Are certain student groups under/over-represented in G/T science?
- How are your ELL students served (are they mainstreamed or does the department offer an ESL course)?
- How is student discipline handled by members in the department? Are certain student groups overrepresented in the referral process? If so, why?
- How is the science curriculum determined on your campus; and are decisions made via research and data?
- Achievement Equity
- Analyze and describe any achievement gaps in the EOC, AP, IB, and/or ACT data (e.g., the percentage of Black or African American students taking the AP Chemistry test is 88% yet only 12% score at/above the criterion level).
- Does your campus offer AP/IB science courses? What teachers historically teach these courses? What student groups are taking these courses and are successful/unsuccessful? If these courses are not offered, can you explain why; especially if these have not been offered for years. Do all students have access to such programs, or are some excluded? If students are excluded, what is the reasoning and who makes those decisions?
I provided this topic as a task to campus science instructional leaders and provided an article (found here) to help them gain in-sight into the topic prior to starting the task. I feel as though I am not not adding more on to what these leaders are already doing as this task is actually part of their role and responsibility as an instructional leader in making sure all students have equitable access to a rich science education; especially if our goal is to close the achievement gap between student populations and provide access to programs for students who historically have been marginalized in our education system. The task fits nicely with the new accountability system in Texas.
I really hope this task raises awareness in our schools and we can begin brainstorming how to address the issue of equity. I will keep you all up-to-date. :)