In early December, the National Center for Education Statistics released its four-year graduation rate for school year 2015-16. The results indicate that Oregon high school students continue to struggle with graduating on time; our state ranked bottom third. Low graduation rates are caused by many factors including chronic absenteeism. Students that consistently miss school fall behind in their classes and often have difficultly catching up. How do we help and encourage students to consistently go to school so that they can graduate on time and set themselves up for future success?
For one Oregon high school student, the reason for regularly missing school was that she felt isolated. A student of color in a predominately white student body and administration, Sadie did not feel like she belonged. Fortunately, she changed schools and now feels more connected to her fellow students, teachers, and administration. She is now more motivated to go to class.
What changed for Sadie? Attending a school that has open conversations around inclusivity, race, and equity has helped. Her school is having these conversations with the support of the Equity Pilot. In partnership with Chalkboard Project, David Douglas and Tillamook school districts, the equity pilot was created in 2016 to align the districts’ improvement initiatives with an equity lens.
Before they chose implementation plans for the pilot, both school districts spent significant time listening to students, families, and community members to understand their perspectives on their school environment. What arose in the listening sessions was students often did not feel welcomed, seen, heard, and connected in their schools. After identifying the root causes of why students often do not feel supported, David Douglas School District decided to test the curriculum Circle Forward: Building a Restorative School which is a framework for building community and responding to challenges through authentic dialogue.
Sadie was an active participant in the listening sessions and she was instrumental in helping her school district decide to implement Circle Forward. Chalkboard recently commissioned a video to highlight the equity pilot work in David Douglas through the perspective of Sadie. We are excited to continue to support our students and administration so they can have these difficult and empowering conversations. Our students’ success may depend on it.
- Teacher Leadership
- Student Success
- Equity and Diversity