Addressing Equity in the Johnston Community School District

JHS Graduation 2019Board members, administrators, teachers, and staff in the Johnson Community School District are committed to looking at all district work and initiatives through a lens of racial and social equity so all learners have the skills, opportunities, and access to experiences that will help them reach their full potential and achieve success. JCSD will partner with families and the community to gain a better understanding of and eliminate barriers rooted in social constructs and cultural misunderstandings that can interfere with a student’s learning or reduce his/her willingness to persist academically. By applying this lens of equity and cultural understanding to all teaching and learning experiences, Johnston Schools will be able to achieve its mission of commit all district resources to guide the learning of all students to graduate as confident learners with character, knowledge, and the skills to excel in any endeavor they pursue.

Defining Equity & Cultural Competence

In the Johnston Community School District, all learners will have access to rigorous and challenging learning opportunities, which lead to measured growth and high achievement without predictable links to race, culture,  ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Learners will acquire an awareness of their own cultural identity and value racial, social, cultural, and ethnic diversities so as to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.

In Johnston, we believe that we must:

  • PROMOTE HEALTHY SCHOOL CLIMATES, providing the best opportunity for learners to be culturally aware as they interact with a diverse society;
  • ESTABLISH HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR ALL LEARNERS, integrating high quality, rigorous and relevant curriculum that reflects the diversity of the student population, which in turn best prepares each learner to achieve success in college, career and life;
  • ERASE BARRIERS that impede all students from being successful and instead honor beliefs and practices that support our district vision to create a culture of excellence where students come first.

Focusing on Equity

A combination of professional development, community conversations, and engagement are critical to addressing racial and social inequities as well as achievement and opportunity gaps. JCSD board members, administrators, staff, and community acknowledge complex societal and historical factors contribute to inequities within our organization and community. Nonetheless, we are committed to addressing and overcoming inequities at all levels to ensure learners have the skills, opportunities, and access to experiences that will help them achieve success.

In order to interrupt systems that perpetuate inequities, Johnston Community School District is committed to:

  • Inviting and including representative voices to help examine issues and find adaptive solutions that look beyond one-time, situational fixes to addressing root causes and systemic barriers;
  • Developing the personal, professional and organizations skills and knowledge of employees to enable them to address inequities; and
  • Eliminating practices that result in predictably lower academic achievement for any student group compared to their peers.

The Johnston Community School District 2020-2025 Strategic Plan outlines our Equity Focus Area by “embracing equity of voices, opportunities, and resources among all students, families, staff, and community members.” A series of measurable action steps follows, with a goal to develop a system that lifts all students to high levels of performance by ensuring equitable access to resources and opportunities.”

  • Education and engage all staff in leading and teaching for equity.
  • Intentionally and systematically expose and recruit students from grades PreK-12 into courses and opportunities to provide college/career experience with a focus on removing barriers for underrepresented populations.
  • Foster a culture of advocacy and inclusivity that leads to greater care and support across the community.

How will we work toward our goal? Below are our measurable outcomes:

  • Promote the district vision for equity and develop necessary policies
  • Implement the use of an Equity Analysis Framework in decision-making around district curricula, practices, policies, and procedures.
  • Establish school/community partnerships that promote learning around equity issues.