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Policy 1080 – Educational Equity

The purpose of this policy is to achieve educational equity by establishing expectations related to the identification and elimination of disparities in education outcomes.

Policy Document

I. Policy Value Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County believes that educational equity is an inherent human right and must shape all school system policies, procedures, and practices. The Board prioritizes educational equity by identifying and removing institutional barriers and other factors that obstruct access and opportunity to a high quality education for all students. The Board recognizes that social identifiers and societal factors influence student outcomes. HCPSS endeavors to provide students with academic and non-academic supports specific to students so all students meet their highest potential. The Board believes it is the shared responsibility of the Board, employees, parents, community stakeholders, and students to work towards educational equity.

The Board acknowledges that educational equity is impacted by a multitude of discriminatory practices that are long-standing and systemic in nature. Systemic racism, ableism, sexism, implicit and explicit bias, institutional barriers, and other oppressive practices are significant contributors to inequitable outcomes for students. As such, the Board is committed to providing all students with a dynamic and educational program that nurtures their cognitive, social and emotional well-being and affirms their identity and experience, in order to maximize each student’s individual potential. We believe it is our responsibility to advance the skills, talents, abilities, and experiences that make each student unique. The unique characteristics of our students and staff are valued as strengths that contribute to the overall school community. We mandate addressing disparities in educational equity as a priority in each school, including but not limited to, access to advanced coursework, extracurricular activities, identification for specialized services, discipline, suspension/expulsion practices, achievement, and graduation rates between student groups.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to achieve educational equity by establishing expectations related to the identification and elimination of disparities in education outcomes.

III. Standards

  1. Academic Achievement and Growth

    Access to a culturally responsive and relevant curriculum that provides meaningful and dynamic school experiences are essential to postsecondary success. In order to actualize this priority, the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) will:

    1. Promote student voice and provide resources to support youth in becoming active and engaged participants in their academic experience.

    2. Provide culturally responsive and relevant curriculum inclusive of but not limited to perspectives from Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latinx, LGBTQ+, indigenous peoples, individuals with disabilities, and other marginalized and oppressed peoples excluded or underrepresented in the current curriculum. The curriculum will use differentiated approaches and resources to meet the needs of every student in accordance with Policy 8000 Curriculum.

    3. Implement a curriculum that teaches students to be global citizens who appreciate and value diverse cultures. As such, the instructional materials used in HCPSS schools reflect aspirations, history, issues, and achievements of persons from diverse social identifiers, and incorporate a global perspective in accordance with Policy 8040 Selection of Instructional Materials and Policy 8050 Teaching of Controversial Issues.

    4. Provide access and support to dynamic coursework and comparable academic and enrichment programs for all students in order to maximize student learning. A student’s English proficiency, disability status, perceived academic ability and/or social identifiers will not limit access and opportunity.

    5. Apply an equity lens during allocation of resources and academic supports for students, families, schools, and communities to ensure individual student success and growth.

    6. Identify and remove institutional barriers that could prevent students from equitably accessing educational opportunities in all schools.

    7. Prohibit exclusion from academic programs, extracurricular activities, and services on the basis of a student’s social identifiers and address violations through Policy 1010 Anti-Discrimination and Policy 7030 Employee Conduct and Discipline.

    8. Report academic achievement and growth data disaggregated by available federally accountable student groups, gender, disability, grade, and school to increase transparency and promote access and opportunity. This data will include, but will not be limited to:

      1. Class size

      2. Mobility of students in differentiated instruction

      3. Course placement at middle and high school level

      4. Grade point average

      5. Graduation rates/drop-out rates

      All reporting is in compliance with Policy 3060 Student Data Governance and Privacy and Policy 9050 Student Records.

  2. School Climate and Culture Affecting Student Success

    In order for all students to be successful academically, schools must create a safe, welcoming, supportive, and affirming environment. As such, the HCPSS will:

    1. Incorporate student voice in school and district level decision making.

    2. Build environments that intentionally focus on fostering empathy, developing relationships and upholding dignity for everyone in our schools, offices, and community.

    3. Create and maintain a culture in which students, employees, and families are encouraged to self-reflect on assumptions, biases, and beliefs, in order to promote understanding, respect, dignity, acceptance, positive interactions and anti-bias actions amongst all individuals and groups.

    4. Nurture healthy relationships with staff, students, and community, through a restorative culture and student-centered practices.

    5. Strive for the establishment of a diverse and inclusive student population at all schools. As such, when considering the development of attendance area adjustments, Policy 6010 School Attendance Areas, may utilize demographic data as a factor in the consideration of boundaries.

    6. Evaluate and continuously improve course placement practices and student scheduling to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in all learning environments.

    7. Design a system for analyzing course and class admission criteria to be administered at the school-level for Gifted & Talented/Honors classes/Advanced Placement classes and ensure criteria are not creating unnecessary barriers or racial inequity in the identification of students.

    8. Maintain a safe and supportive school climate through a multifaceted approach that uplifts positive relationships and culture of belonging, supports mental health needs, and is in accordance with Policy 1040 Safe and Supportive Schools.

    9. Identify and eliminate disproportionality in discipline practices by uplifting and nurturing healthy relationships, creating a just and equitable learning environment, repairing harm, and responding effectively to conflict. Regardless of social identifiers, consequences are fair, equitable, consistent, and reflective of a restorative culture.

    10. Leverage the strengths of parents and community partnerships to increase equitable opportunities for students and positively influence the school culture and climate.

    11. Provide translation of documents in languages that represent the HCPSS community and sign-language interpretation services to ensure access to information for all families in accordance with Policy 1070 Protections and Supports for Foreign-Born Students and Families and the Americans with Disabilities Act, respectively.

    12. Maintain a clean, safe, affirming, and healthy environment at all schools that is conducive to student learning.

    13. Eliminate discriminatory practices at all organizational levels. Discriminatory practices are prohibited and addressed through Policy 1010 Anti-Discrimination and Policy 7030 Employee Conduct and Discipline.

    14. Report school climate data disaggregated by available federally accountable student groups, gender, disability, grade and school to track progress towards a healthier and positive climate. This data will include but not be limited to:

      1. School discipline practices

      2. Suspensions

      3. Expulsions

      4. Arrests

      5. Referrals to and interactions with law enforcement.

  3. Staff Capacity for Educational Equity

    A diverse workforce of effective educators is essential to a student’s educational experience. All HCPSS employees commit to co-creating a safe and nurturing learning environment and as such, the HCPSS will:

    1. Intentionally recruit, employ, promote, support, and retain a diverse workforce of highly qualified educators, school-based administrators, school leaders, and Central Office employees that reflect the diversity of the student population. In accordance with Policy 7000 Workforce Diversity and Inclusion, an innovative recruitment and retention Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Plan for teachers of color and other diverse staff, is a priority for HCPSS.

    2. Identify and remove institutional barriers to recruiting, hiring, retaining, and promoting a diverse workforce.

    3. Provide ongoing professional learning focusing on factors influencing educational equity, such as anti-bias, anti-racism, cultural proficiency instruction, cultural responsiveness, disability acceptance, implicit bias, explicit bias, racial equity, and systemic racism for all staff.

    4. Utilize restorative justice practices where appropriate and support educators in building positive cultures, where students and staff feel valued, welcomed, and supported to fulfil their academic and professional potential.

    5. Train and support school-based Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liaisons (DEILs) who will work with school administrators and their teams to support the attainment of school improvement goals, specifically focusing on equity goals related to school climate and culture.

    6. Work collaboratively with parents, community groups, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), Howard County Executive, the Howard County Council and county agencies, business organizations, bargaining units, and other stakeholders to increase equity and inclusion for students and staff.

    7. Prohibit discriminatory employment practices through the implementation of Policy 1010 Anti-Discrimination and Policy 7030 Employee Conduct and Discipline.

    8. Report staff related data to track progress towards workforce diversification, retention, promotion, professional learning opportunities, development of restorative justice, development of cadre of DEILs, and stakeholder collaboration.

IV. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/designee will oversee the development of system-wide objectives, activities, and track progress towards measurable targets to achieve educational equity. Superintendent/designee will track and record progress toward measureable targets to achieve educational equity. At least one goal will focus on racial equity.

  2. The Superintendent/designee will obtain student, parent, and community feedback on setting the measurable objectives for achieving educational equity annually.

  3. The Superintendent/designee will provide to the Board data on educational equity through information items, memorandums, and Board reports that include disaggregated data.

  4. The Superintendent/ designee will oversee the reporting of equity related goals and data to the public in the aggregate by federally accountable student groups, gender, disability, grade and school in a searchable and analyzable format.

  5. The Superintendent/designee will oversee the development of a Local Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated Strategic Plan. The plan includes a needs assessment that identifies areas of focus, provides the ESSA equity performance accountability measures, and further outlines implementation strategies that address educational equity.

  6. The Superintendent/designee will propose an annual budget that allocates resources in a manner that promotes the principles of education equity. The equity information will be part of each program budget where applicable and include an analysis of resources that address disparities in education outcomes.

  7. The Department of Information Technology will collaborate with HCPSS offices to maintain a longitudinal data system that contains disaggregated student data across academics, discipline, and school climate for district, program, and school analysis of educational equity.

  8. The Department of Curriculum and Instruction will develop a culturally responsive curriculum that is inclusive and reflective of perspectives which have been excluded or minimized historically and currently. Professional learning will be provided to educators to build the capacity to understand and deliver culturally proficient instruction.

  9. The Office of Human Resources will develop recruitment, promotion, employment, and retention procedures consistent with the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Plan.

  10. The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) will provide training and development aligned to its educational equity goals through district-level and school-based level professional learning opportunities.

  11. HCPSS principals will include students, parents, families and community members, in decision-making groups that impact school culture, climate, and the academic success of students as often as possible.

  12. Through professional learning, all employees will engage in self-reflective practices aligned to HCPSS educational equity goals.

  13. The Superintendent’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group will provide the Superintendent/designee with a review of the educational equity goals and an assessment of educational equity in HCPSS annually.

  14. The Superintendent/designee will review this policy at least every three years and recommend it for revision as necessary.

V. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop appropriate procedures to implement this policy.

VI. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Anti-Bias - Recognizing and addressing stereotypes, understanding and surfacing implicit and explicit bias, and challenging discrimination.

  2. Anti-Racism - Actively educating oneself on the history of race, racism, and the current institutional and structural impact on communities of color. This also includes actively working to end racist practices, policies, and attitudes to ensure equity.

  3. Communities of Color - Any person who is not considered White in the United States.

  4. Culturally Proficient Instruction - An inside out approach to teaching and learning in which educators surface their assumptions, biases, beliefs, and behaviors, in order to better instruct their students. Culturally proficient practices are guided by the tools of cultural proficiency.

  5. Cultural Responsiveness - Pedagogy that values the strengths of students' and educators’ cultural backgrounds, and recognizes the importance of including culture in all aspects of learning through equitable and inclusive practices. Cultural responsiveness is grounded in relationships and plays an essential role in how individuals communicate and receive information.

  6. Disability - A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities as defined in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or the receipt of special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).

  7. Disability Acceptance - To actively embrace the individual strengths and needs of a person with a disability by conveying not only knowledge (awareness) of their unique characteristics or differences, but demonstrating an understanding and appreciation for them as valued members of the human community.

  8. Diversity - Recognizing, accepting and respecting that individuals come from many different life experiences with various frames of reference and perspectives. While diversity values unique perspectives and individual differences, it also values the commonalities we all share. Diversity includes, but is not limited to, race/ethnicity, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, language, culture, religion/beliefs, mental and physical ability, disability, age, and national origin.

  9. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liaison (DEIL) - A leadership role within a school that facilitates school efforts to support diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. The liaison, is selected by the principal, receives training and support from the ODEI and participates in a district-wide network of DEILs.

  10. Educational Equity - Every student has access and support to the opportunities, resources, and educational rigor they need throughout their educational career to maximize academic success and social/emotional well-being and to view each student’s individual characteristics as valuable.

  11. Equity Lens - The impact on marginalized student groups is addressed when considering any program, practice, decision, or action, with a strategic focus on identifying and eliminating potential barriers.

  12. Explicit Bias - Attitudes, beliefs, and actions that are on a conscious level and enacted with negative intent.

  13. Federally Accountable Student Group - Categories of students that are recognized in school, district, and state performance reporting.

  14. Gender - The attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex.

  15. Gender Identity - One’s internal, personal sense of one’s own gender.

  16. Implicit Bias - The attitudes and stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, may be activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.

  17. Inclusion - The process by which a school ensures that all individuals are engaged participants in the learning environment and community. All students, families and staff members feel valued, respected, appreciated and involved. Individuals see their unique identities reflected in all facets of education including staffing, curriculum, instruction, and activities.

  18. Institutional Barriers - The policies, procedures or practices that deny access to educational opportunities or systematically disadvantage students and families based on social identifiers.

  19. Longitudinal Data System - Database of student information that is capable of maintaining records over multiple years in multiple schools.

  20. Marginalized Groups - Groups and communities that experience discrimination and exclusion (social, political and economic) because of unequal power relationships across economic, political, social and cultural dimensions.

  21. Parent - Any one of the following recognized as the adult(s) legally responsible for the student:

    1. Biological Parent - A natural parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    2. Adoptive Parent - A person who has legally adopted the student and whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    3. Custodian - A person or an agency appointed by the court as the legal custodian of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    4. Guardian - A person who has been placed by the court in charge of the affairs of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    5. Caregiver - An adult resident of Howard County who exercises care, custody, or control over the student but who is neither the biological parent nor legal guardian as long as the person satisfies the requirements of the Education Article, §7-101 (c) (Informal Kinship Care) or has been issued a U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Verification of Release form entering into a custodial arrangement with the federal government.

    6. Foster Parent - An adult approved to care for a child who has been placed in the home by a state agency or a licensed child placement as provided by the Family Law Article, §5-507.

  22. Racial Equity - Ensuring a person’s race or ethnicity are no longer predictors of advantage or disadvantage due to implicit or explicit bias and socially-constructed racial hierarchies. Examining and ending unintended (and intended) consequences and actions that have negative or disparate effects on communities of color.

  23. Racism - The belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. Racial separatism is the belief, most of the time based on racism, that different races should remain segregated and apart from one another. This includes systemic racism which is the systematic distribution of resources, power and opportunity in our society to the benefit of people who are white and the exclusion of communities of color.

  24. Restorative Culture - An approach that emphasizes building relationships. When there is a need to repair harm caused by conflict and wrongdoing, restorative justice provides an opportunity for everyone impacted by an incident to come together in a safe space to address their feelings and needs, and reach a resolution that heals and restores relationships.

  25. Sexual Orientation - The emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction a person has to another person.

  26. Social Identifiers - The characteristics of each individual which include but are not limited to: ability (cognitive, social/emotional, and physical), ethnicity, family structure, gender identity and expression, language, national origin, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, skin color, and socio-economic status.

AA. Student Voice - A belief and a process to listen, learn, and lead with students, in order to increase student agency in their educational experience.

VII. References

VIII. History

ADOPTED: October 8, 2020




EFFECTIVE: October 8, 2020