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In November 2018, Novato Unified School District (NUSD) partnered with The Education Trust-West (ETW) and Marin Promise Partnership (MPP) to conduct an Educational Equity Audit (EEA). The purpose of the EEA is to closely analyze college and career readiness for NUSD students, with a focus on equitable access and success within schools, among schools, and among groups of students. Participation in the EEA is an essential component to the county-wide initiative coordinated by MPP — Keeping Every Door Open for Every Student.
In December 2018, the NUSD Board of Education approved the district’s Equity Imperative, which includes the Universal Goal: “All students will demonstrate proficiency in the academic and social skills identified in the Graduate Profile, which includes meeting the UC/CSU entrance requirements upon graduation so that they are prepared for and successful in college and career.” The Equity Imperative outlines targeted strategies that include professional development with the National Equity Project, the development of learning targets and proficiency scales, and the study of effective grading practices. These initiatives provide a good foundation to further explore and disrupt the underlying causes and conditions that contribute to disparate outcomes for students within NUSD. They may also help to implement systemic changes so that equitable outcomes can be achieved for all students.
To conduct the Educational Equity Audit, ETW conducted interviews with district leaders and focus groups with administrators, students, parents, counselors, and teachers at each of the three high schools — Novato High School, San Marin High School, and Marin Oaks High Schools. ETW also gathered survey data from 1,088 students, 234 parents, and 68 school staff members. Additionally, ETW and district staff facilitated community conversations with 50 family and community stakeholders who shared their ideas on ways to support students to become college and career ready. ETW also conducted a transcript analysis for the Class of 2018 and reviewed artifacts such as master schedules, course catalogs, and budget documents.
Using those data, ETW identified ten categories and grouped key findings and recommendations into the following topic areas:
- Course access and success
- Curriculum and instruction
- Student supports and interventions
- School culture and climate
- College and career readiness supports
- Certificated staff diversity and professional learning
- Community and family engagement
- English learners and students with disabilities
- Alternative schools
- Allocation of resources
This report includes key findings from ETW’s data analysis, such as:
- There are significant gaps in enrollment in and successful completion of the full a-g course sequence by gender, ethnicity, and income, with ethnicity as the strongest predictor of a-g completion.
- There is a lack of support for English learner students (ELs) in content courses and insufficient professional learning opportunities focused on supporting ELs and students with disabilities in content courses.
- There are insufficient systemic supports for students’ social-emotional wellness.
- Alternative school options (Marin Oaks and Nova) are greatly appreciated by students and families, but improvements are needed in the transition process.
- The College and Career Readiness course presents a good opportunity, but needs revision to address students’ needs.
- Initial efforts to norm around educational equity and culturally proficient pedagogy have been uneven and have not yet translated to systemic change.
Key findings and recommendations included in this report will inform the Blueprint for Equity Action Planning process to occur during the 2019-20 school year.