Everybody, including every one of our students, has a different story and comes from a unique background. Our students bring with them unique gifts, individualized learning styles, skills, experiences, and cultural identities. A significant number of our students also carry the weight of poverty, racism, sexism, trauma, and other forms of prejudices and conditions that affect how they perform in school. Achieving equity ensures that students’ identities will not predetermine their success in schools.
We recognize that understanding and accepting those differences is key to creating effective learning experiences and is instrumental in helping every student learn at their highest potential.
We are committed to ensuring the right of each student to have equitable opportunities to achieve their dreams and academic goals by minimizing barriers and limitations. Student success will not be predicted nor predetermined by national origin, race, culture, ethnicity, sex, language, socioeconomic status, mobility, sexual orientation, disability, and/or religion.
To that end, on November 15, 2021, the Hatboro-Horsham School Board (HHSB) voted to adopt its Educational Equity Policy (Policy #832).
The Educational Equity Policy ensures equity initiatives are woven into the District’s Comprehensive Plan. It also ensures that planning, at every level, is scrutinized through an equity lens—meaning intentional focus is placed on assessing any inequitable impact the execution of a program, practice, operation, decision, or action may have on a student or group of students and eliminating or reversing that adverse impact.
“Equality is treating everyone the same. But equity is taking differences into account, so everyone has a chance to succeed.” — Jodi Picoult, Novelist, and Advocate
What is Educational Equity?
Educational Equity is…
“The just and fair distribution of resources based upon each individual student’s needs. Equitable resources include funding, programs, policies, initiatives, and supports that target each student’s unique background and school context to guarantee that all students have equal access to a high-quality education.” (PSBA, 2018)
Educational Equity is Inclusive:
Extends, values, and embeds the experiences and voices of all populations within the framework, climate, and procedures of our District.
Educational Equity is Fair:
Students are given what they need to participate fully (free from bias or injustice).
Educational Equity is Just:
Remedies past harms that created inequities and addresses present harms that may lead to inequities.
“In the pursuit of equity, school leaders must assess our actions locally to overcome barriers and create opportunities so that each and every child has the tools and support necessary to achieve their highest potential.” (PSBA, 2018)
“(Achieving educational equity) ensures that students’ identities will not predetermine their success in schools.” (PSBA, 2018)
Why is Educational Equity important at Hatboro-Horsham?
In our ever-changing society, it is economically and morally vital that we prepare all our students to be college- and career-ready, to actively participate in our democracy, and to respect, value, and include diverse peoples.
Our students bring with them unique gifts, individualized learning styles, skills, experiences, and cultural identities. A significant number of our students also carry the weight of poverty, racism, sexism, trauma, and other forms of prejudices and conditions that affect how they perform in school.
Achieving equity ensures that students’ family circumstances, race, gender, or any other identifying factor will not predetermine their success in schools.
In 2017, in collaboration with Hanover Research, the HHSD conducted a School Climate and Equity Survey. The analysis reflects responses from students from Keith Valley Middle School and Hatboro-Horsham High School, parents, and staff members. The data collected from that survey provided key findings which identified areas where the District needed improvement. It clearly shows that equity initiatives are needed.
Portions of the findings from this survey are below. The full HHSD School Climate and Equity Survey can be found here.
Respondents report that not all students in the District are treated fairly, especially at the secondary level.
Only about half of responding students and staff members believe that adults at their school treat all students fairly (S-51%, T-53%). Compared to respondents at the elementary school level, significantly fewer parents and staff members at the secondary school level assert students are treated fairly (P-75% vs. 61%, T-67% vs. 47%). Further, only one-third of secondary school staff members believe that adults at their school enforce school rules fairly for all students (33%). District leaders may consider a disciplinary audit to identify cases of unfair treatment.
The level of reported respect for students is relatively low.
More respondents believe that adults at their (child’s) school respect students (S-64%, P-86%, T-90%) compared to those who believe that students at their (child’s) school respect students (S-34%, P-63%, T-57%). At the secondary level, only 34 percent of responding students agree that students at their school respect other students, compared to 58 percent of parents and 57 percent of students. To address these concerns, District leaders may investigate best practices in fostering a positive school climate and reducing bullying.
Non-white students and parents are less likely to feel supported by their (child’s) school than white respondents.
A significantly smaller proportion of non-white students and parents believe that the school supports their (or their child’s) academic goals (S-79% vs. 85%, P-72% vs. 89%), and that teachers encourage them (or their child) to reach their full potential (P-59% vs. 78%), compared to their counterparts who are white. Further, non-white parents are much less likely than white parents to indicate that their child’s school effectively supports students from diverse backgrounds (67% vs. 83%). Regarding student achievement, non-white parents are less inclined than white parents to be satisfied with how the school prepares their child for college (50% vs. 74%); indeed, white students report a higher participation rate in advanced curricula such as Honors and Accelerated classes (30% vs. 20%) and Advanced Placement classes (16% vs. 11%) than non-white students.
81% of students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses are satisfied with their school, compared to only 50% of students in Special Education.
Overall, the majority of respondents are satisfied with their school or the District as a whole (S-63%, P-83%, T-66%). However, there are notable differences across various sub-sets of the population. For example, 87 percent of white parents report that they are satisfied with their child’s school, compared to only 70 percent of non-white parents. Similarly, white students are more likely than non-white students to report that they are satisfied with their school (66% vs. 60%). Differences can be seen across academic programs as well; 81 percent of students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses are satisfied with their school, compared to only 50 percent of students in Special Education. These differences suggest that the District could do a better job of reaching out to underserved populations to identify their needs.
Additional professional development and time for lesson planning may help teachers support learners of all types.
Although two-thirds of responding professional staff and support staff (67%) agree that they are provided with the resources they need to teach effectively, less than half (49%) assert that they receive professional development to support all types of learners. Further, an even smaller proportion (34%) report that they are provided with sufficient time for lesson planning. Given that minority respondents are less likely to feel supported or included at school (see previous two findings), teachers may benefit from additional professional development support and lesson planning time to integrate diverse materials in the classroom. School and district leaders can also encourage subject area teams to share ideas for diverse instructional materials, and conduct audits of instructional materials to identify opportunities to add more diverse perspectives.
District policy revision or adoption requires 2 votes from the School Board: a first-read vote and a second-read vote.
The first-read vote of the Educational Equity Policy was passed unanimously
The second-read vote was split along party lines (5 to 4) with no comments, explanations, or revision suggestions from the 4-dissenting Republican Board members
How did we craft our Educational Equity Policy?
Beginning in January 2021, the HHSB and Administration formed an action committee to initiate the crafting of the Educational Equity Policy. Using District data and the 2017 community survey findings as a guide, the Educational Equity Action Committee…
Collaborated with HHSD educators at both the primary and secondary levels
Partnered with the PSBA
Participated in workshops–aimed at educating the Hatboro-Horsham School Board members about the impact of educational equity
Discussed, debated, and revised the policy during monthly public Policy Committee meetings, and
Held an equity-specific public community forum
We believe that Education Equity is an ongoing initiative. We continue our equity work by routinely assessing district initiatives through an equity lens–aimed at eliminating inequities. We are focused on achieving and maintaining the highest level of equity across our District.