Waltham High School Equity Grant
by Tammi Wang ‘20
In January of 2018, Waltham High School received an Equity Grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF). Using this grant, WHS has partnered with Teaching Excellence Network (TEN) to support an equity audit of Waltham High School and to determine the root causes of inequities that exist in our system. In order to spark a community discussion about the priorities the school should focus on to address inequities, the school administered a survey using a platform that aligns the voices of educators, students and parents.
The ultimate goal of the Equity Grant is to provide all students with equitable learning opportunities. More than a year ago, the school formed an equity team to discuss and address achievement and opportunity gaps such that WHS prepares all learners for college, career and community.
Last May more than 90 percent of students, 160 educators, and over 200 parents participated in the TEN survey. The participants chose the top seven priorities in each category of the three domains: Relationships, Relevance, and Responsibility. The top priority in each category is:
Building trusting relationships with students (Teacher builds trusting relationships so that students feel like they can honestly communicate their opinions and needs. EVERY students is connected to at least one trusted adult)
Developing critical thinking skills (Teacher prepares students to question analyze and solve problems in their schoolwork, personal lives, and community.)
Creates supportive academic culture (Teacher appropriately accommodates, modifies and adapts lessons so everys student is supported in their learning. EVERY student has access to complex texts and challenging tasks)
The Teaching Excellence Network has conducted small discussions groups with students, families and educators to find the root causes of inequity at WHS. The discussion groups were presented with the top twelve priorities from the survey (four from each category) to explore the deeper meaning of each priority.
Starting in mid-August, the school will dedicate time throughout the upcoming school year to develop a plan to address the shared priorities. WHS is also establishing a Task Force with a diverse group of students, educators, and parents. There will be recruitment for representatives this fall.
Thanks again to the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for providing this grant.
If you would like to participate in the Waltham High School Priority Task Force please email Shelly Chin at ShellyChin@walthampublicschools.org.