Contributed by Lisa Williams and Kendra Johnson
Our previous and current experiences as school-based leaders and central office support staff framed our work to support principals with their intentional pursuit of educational equity. Through these experiences, we created a framework to assist principals intentionally engage in highly complex educational equity. The framework, coined PACE, is a fluid, recursive process framed by four essential actions:
- Principals create an equity-focused instructional vision for the teaching and learning dynamic that results in equitable student outcomes.
- Assess the teaching and learning dynamic to determine the quality of daily instructional climate, and then crossing observations with various student data metrics (formative assessments, summative assessments, student focus group discussions, teacher interviews, etc.).
- Collaborate in professional learning communities on equitable student outcomes. During these collaborative experiences, staff share observations notes and associated learnings, student work, and other data relative to the teaching and learning dynamic. In addition, real-time professional development occurs during these collaborative experiences to respond to student data and teachers’ abilities to meet students at their instructional level.
- Evaluate the impact of the collaborative professional learning communities with a significant emphasis on the transfer of the real-time professional development to changed teacher behavior and, ultimately, equitable student acquisition of skills and knowledge. Due to the fluid and recursive nature of the PACE framework, the principal would circle back to his/her equity-focused instructional framework to determine if adjustments are needed to respond to one cycle of PACE. Then, the revisiting and refinement continues as outlined in the framework.
It is possible that principals may review PACE and say, “This is not how I currently think about my work, or, I do this but maybe not as consistently or in the same way as described.” Our response to this is simple: If a principal’s data shows high student achievement for all with no achievement gaps between student groups, then they have an effective model for doing this work, and PACE may not be necessary for them. Our experience, regrettably, has taught us that there is still a great deal of work needed in this area. Accordingly, we introduce PACE.
Start this Work Today!
The PACE framework is a recursive process; therefore, implementation is ongoing. Although the intuitive entry point is the establishment of purpose for the work, a concurrent action is the principal’s creation of an equity-focused instructional vision. In order to accomplish this work, we suggest using the considerations in Figure 1:
Figure 1: Considerations to Start PAUSE Today
Underrepresented student groups, students from diverse backgrounds, students with disabilities, students with diverse linguistics needs, and economically disadvantaged students have and continue to be underserved by America’s public schools. As a principal, you have the influence to reverse this stubborn and persistent trend in the school you lead. To that end, the PACE framework provides a structure for you to be intentional and strategic in your pursuit of educational equity. As the instructional leader within any school community, the pursuit of educational equity begins and ends with you, the principal. You, yes you, have the power to create conditions that help more traditionally underserved groups of students experience academic success. Difficult work, check√, frustrating work, check√, and uncomfortable work, check√, yet your students are depending on you!
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