A Letter from the Superintendent: Closing the Achievement Gap

At Lakeville Area Schools, student success is our number one goal. To ensure success for each and every student, a comprehensive, district-wide focus on equity work is critical. Equity means supporting all students by providing supportive, responsive learning environments based on individual student needs. Human dignity is the essence of our belief and effort in our school communities and equity commitments.

My vision for Lakeville Area Schools is a district where all students have a guaranteed right to participate in and access all the opportunities the district provides. It is a fundamental demand of social justice and a requirement of human dignity that all participate. Our collective charge as leaders and staff is to provide a nurturing community for ALL of our families and children, so our students can reach their full potential.

A persistent achievement gap is a sign that some of our students are still not getting what they need to be successful. Depicted here is the district’s achievement gap.

Achievement Gap 041119

To close the achievement and opportunity gap, the State of Minnesota’s Achievement and Integration plan was established.
This plan seeks to increase student achievement, create equitable educational opportunities and reduce academic disparities based on students’ diverse racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds in all Minnesota public schools.

In 2006, when Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District was first identified by the State as being a racially isolated school district and Lakeville Area Schools as being the adjoining district, there was a 21% difference in students of color. By 2013 that difference was 28%. A Multi-District Collaborative Council was established to work on closing the academic achievement and opportunity gap among specified student groups in both districts. This council reviews progress of the Achievement and Integration Plan and engages in shared learning twice a year regarding equity needs in our schools, and provides essential stakeholder input for defined priorities.

The Achievement and Integration plan for our district focuses on the following goal areas:

1. Culturally Responsive Practices:
This school year, staff have participated in a voluntary book study based upon “Waking up White” by Debby Irving. The professional development opportunity provided participants with the opportunity to hear from others regarding their cultural experiences, perspectives and ideas for how to make our schools welcoming and supportive for all students.

Teaching Tolerance Social Justice 101 will be offered to all staff in April and June. A new internal website library of culturally responsive resources provides staff with essential tools to help staff gain essential skills needed to ensure quality support for students.

2. Equitable Academic Opportunities and Supports:
Every August, staff come together to analyze achievement data, review school improvement plans, set goals and develop improvement strategies at the district’s data retreat.

The district offers the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. It is a college preparatory system working directly with the secondary schools, which includes 15 AVID classes taught by 12 AVID elective teachers in our middle and high schools. In addition, the equity department provides enhanced support to internal and external programs that provide equitable opportunities for all students.

3. Family and Student Engagement:
School Success Liaisons serve as a bridge for students, schools, families and community. These staff members build long-term relationships with our culturally-diverse families resulting in increased parent involvement and student success through tutoring, home visits, hosting events, supporting parent-teacher conference sign-ups and much more. The liaisons also support teachers and staff in building relationships with students. These five staff members work district-wide and can be accessed by school staff or parents at any time for academic and social-emotional support.

To further enhance our equity support, we are in the process of hiring an Equity Specialist. This role will focus on integrating AVID strategies K-12, ongoing professional development based on district needs, diversification of curriculum and courses, and development of a plan in partnership with the Human Resources Department to effectively recruit and retain teachers of color.

Our teachers are working tirelessly every day to close the achievement and opportunity gap. We, as a district, are working to give them the resources they need to do this work. Candidly, closing the achievement gap is not enough. What we really want is to maximize educational success for all students. That is why, in addition to our ongoing work around equity, we began a sustained, deliberate effort around social-emotional learning this year. We believe an approach that promotes positive environments, social skills, and a continuum of supports for students leads to better outcomes in school and in life.

There is much work ahead to ensure every students’ success. For more information, contact Lydia Lindsoe, AVID Director/Equity Coordinator at lydia.lindsoe@isd194.org.

Michael Baumann Signature

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