Charlottesville City Schools serves 4,500 students who are economically, racially, and ethnically diverse, and we want all of them to succeed. This is made possible by a culture of respect, high expectations, and mutual support.
After a season of listening during the 2018-19 year, we have created four focus areas to move our school division beyond decades of “good intentions” into a new era of positive impact.
1. Supported/Supportive Staff
This includes diversifying our staff and equipping our educators to succeed and help all students succeed.
|Commitment: Vigorous recruitment plan to attract a staff that reflects and embraces our students’ diversity.|
|Update: In the summer of 2019, a very strong applicant pool resulted in 30 percent of our instructional and administrative hires being people of color. Read “School divisions changing tactics to boost teacher diversity,” Daily Progress, 14 Sept. 2019.|
|Commitment: Revised mentoring program for first- and second-year teachers|
|Update: A network of experienced teachers is offering periodic check-ups on the well-being of teachers who are new to our division. They are providing support and steering them to practical resources like our instructional coaches or wellness programs.|
|Commitment: Revised instructional coaching model for all teachers|
|Update: Four years into our instructional coaching model, we continue to work with national experts to refine our system. While our coaches were previously available as requested, our new model reaches all teachers to assure that they — like our students — are growing, learning, and supported.|
|Commitment: Establishing supports for teachers of color to create a sense of belonging|
|Update: Community is important, and making connections within our schools and across the community can offer practical and personal supports. We are building connections with groups such as the Black Professional Network and African-American Teaching Fellows.|
|Commitment: Greater awareness of ways to include and support staff of color|
|Update: As we grow in awareness of ways to see and support our students of color, let’s also fully support and recognize the expertise of teachers and staff members of color.|
|Commitment: Professional Learning on differentiation, particularly for honors-option (unleveled) classes|
|Update: To support our expansion of honors-option classes at Walker, Buford, and CHS, our teachers have engaged in summer and school-year training with Carol Ann Tomlinson, a national expert on differentiation. Read “Walker, Buford prepare for unleveled classes,” Daily Progress, 21 July 2019.
Similarly, to support our redesign of the gifted program, our gifted resource specialists have been working closely with Katherine Brighton of UVa’s Curry School of Education.
|Commitment: Professional Learning on cultural competence and responsiveness|
|Commitment: Professional learning on school culture (systems of supports, responsive classroom, social-emotional learning, trauma-responsiveness, etc.)|
2. Diverse, Inclusive, and Rigorous Learning Experiences
Let’s embrace our diversity — in classrooms’ student composition and in richly varied and challenging learning activities.
|Commitment: Expanded honors-option (unleveled) classes at CHS, Buford, Walker|
|Update: At CHS, additional classes use the honors-option model and there is a greater emphasis on using honors-level work as the starting point for all students; at Walker, all classes are now unleveled; at Buford, science and social studies courses are unleveled in 2019-20 with plans for additional expansion in 2020-2021. Read “Walker, Buford prepare for unleveled classes.” Daily Progress, 21 July 2019.|
|Commitment: Redesign of gifted program|
|Update: The pull-out model of gifted instruction that served a small group of students has been replaced with a push-in model for gifted instruction at all elementaries, bringing the creativity and challenge of gifted instruction to all students. Read “City schools embark on a new quest. ” Daily Progress, 7 Sept. 2019..|
|Commitment: Continued redesign of history/social science curricula to better incorporate diverse (and local) voices and experiences|
|Update: As part of a “Changing the Narrative” grant, teachers are working with partners at Virginia Humanities, Jefferson School, and more.
|Commitment: Continued implementation of new elementary math curriculum|
|Update: In year two of implementing the Investigations (K-4) and EnVision (5-12) standards-aligned math curriculum, we are building on the successes from year one by ensuring that all students have access to high-quality curriculum, instruction, and the supports they need to be successful.|
|Commitment: Pilot of new elementary reading resources|
|Update: Based on the success of our launch of the Calkins “Units of Study” Writing Program in 2018, we are piloting the use of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Into Reading program (supplemented by other resources). Pilot is in place at Clark, Jackson-Via, and in fifth grade at Walker.|
|Commitment: Better alignment of state learning standards with curriculum/resources|
|Update: Online resources are being developed to better align learning standards, curriculum pacing, lesson plans, teaching resources, and assessment tools. (Also see Illuminate roll-out, below.)|
3. Growing Relationships/Community
As we help our staff and students feel connected, supported, and safe, we will learn from one another for our mutual gain.
|Commitment: Positive school culture|
|Commitment: Proactive, equitable behavior supports|
|Commitment: Expanded social-emotional learning (SEL) practices|
|Commitment: Intentional community-building|
|Commitment:Building out support networks with partnering organizations|
|Update: A Community Care Coalition is in development to meet the needs of individuals or groups as specific needs arise, during school closures such as holidays, or during extended emergency school closures.|
|Commitment: Creating a city-wide mentorship program|
|Update: A “Bring Back the Village” mentoring network is in development to connect students with mentors, tutors, classroom volunteers, and more.|
|Commitment:Revising communications practices to be more student- and family-friendly|
|Update: Ongoing. A web site refresh is being developed; other examples include the continued refinement of processes such as online forms.|
4. Equity Foundations
We want to be systematic and proactive as we make positive change. Let’s follow — and establish — best practices.
|Commitment: Clarifying the work and reconvening the division’s Equity Committee|
|Update: First meeting to be scheduled later this fall.|
|Commitment: Establishing school-based Equity Councils|
|Update: School committees have been formed and guidelines given. First meetings have been established. Council members will receive institutional bias and facilitation training.|
|Commitment: Aligning ourselves with one or more regional or national equity initiatives|
|Update: We are part of the 2019-20 cohort for the Racial Equity Leadership Network, and we are having ongoing conversations with other groups.|
|Commitment: Establishing an equity and anti-racism policy|
|Update: These policies have been drafted and are receiving feedback; first School Board hearing on October 3. To read the drafts and provide feedback prior to the November 7 adoption vote, please click here.|
|Commitment: Establishing key goals, definitions, metrics|
|Update: Ongoing conversations as we work with the Racial Equity Leadership Network and others.|
|Commitment: Better use of data to drive decisions and meet students’ needs|
|Update:Illuminate data program adoption in September 2019 will provide better assessment tools and data analysis to shape instruction, interventions, and more. Implementation and training are underway in fall 2019. Continued build-out of Illuminate resources will be ongoing.|
|Commitment: Planned redesign of middle school and preschool facilities to better serve students|
|Update: Request for proposal for professional services to be issued later this fall.|
For Additional Updates and Highlights:
T. Denise Johnson, Supervisor of Equity and Inclusion