We believe that a successful state plan for teacher and leader equity in State A could not be developed solely and in isolation by ADOE or even by ADOE in cooperation with school districts. Rather, the plan’s success will depend in large part on the long-term involvement and ownership of other stakeholders, including parents and other community members, teachers and other school employees (including organizations representing teachers), teacher and leader educators and others from higher education, school boards, civil rights and other community groups, and the business community. As described below, ADOE has involved stakeholders from the beginning and will continue to do so through a statewide Educator Equity Coalition of key stakeholder groups that will oversee the long-term implementation of and improvement of this plan. To ensure that we produced a truly shared plan of action, ADOE held three stakeholder meetings (in the eastern, central, and western regions of the state) in spring 2015, solicited public input through the ADOE website, and worked with several committees and task forces. (See Appendices A–D for details about our stakeholder engagement process.)
To begin with, we made of list of potential stakeholder groups including state and district leaders on educator equality, teachers, principals, parents, union leaders, community and business organizations, and students to join the statewide equitable access committee (see the list of stakeholders invited, and whether they accepted, in Appendix A). One individual from each group was tapped to be a part of a statewide educator equity committee, with the help of a committee of advisors from within the SEA, who commented on the format and membership of the statewide committee, the invitation list for the three regional meetings, the new task force, and the long-term Educator Equity Coalition. These advisors also provided feedback on preliminary ideas and materials emerging from the planning process. Complete membership of the statewide committee and long-term Educator Equity Coalition (for which there is considerable overlap). All meeting minutes are available on the State A Equitable Access website. We conducted initial outreach meetings with each group to explain our work in creating this plan and indicate who from their group should be involved.
To document the stakeholder engagement process, we created a list of groups that we met with, with the main lead identified for each group, and any other members that should be included in the process. We also captured whether or not groups participated in the development of the plan following this initial outreach meeting. For stakeholders interested in staying updated on the progress of developing the plan but who may not have been able to invest significant time in the plan’s development, we have posted monthly updates on the ADOE website.
As documented in Appendix B, stakeholders were directly involved in the root-cause analysis (described on page 16). Stakeholders also collaborated in examining data to identify the state’s most significant gaps in equitable access to excellent teaching and leading―which, together with our root-cause analysis, informed our theory of action (described on page 15). Meeting agendas and a meeting tracker are included in Appendix C.
The statewide committee supported the planning of three large public stakeholder meetings in each of three regions of our state: the eastern, central, and western regions. The committee also met with the Commissioner of Education on four occasions. The purpose of these seven meetings was for stakeholders to:
Review data and serve as advisors on interpreting the data and the root causes behind our state’s equity gaps using the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders resource titled Resource 7: Engaging Stakeholders in a Root-Cause Analysis (http://www.gtlcenter.org/learning-hub/equitable-access-toolkit/stakeholder-engagement-guide). Due to different levels of familiarity with data among our stakeholder groups, we did our best to ensure that a member of the state team with expertise in data analysis was on hand at these meetings. In the event that scheduling conflicts or time constraints made this approach infeasible, the available state staff met with the data team in advance of the meeting to ensure they were prepared to address technical data questions.
Identify and prioritize root causes of inequities in access to excellent teachers and leaders.
Review and provide feedback on the draft plan.
At these meetings, we heard from parents, students, teachers, school and district leaders, pupil services personnel, school board members, community organizations, advocacy group leaders, educator preparation faculty, private business representatives, representatives from Indian tribal areas, and other members of the public. To ensure that the conversations were productive and solutions-oriented, we used structured discussion protocols, such as the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders structured discussion-group protocol in Resource 10: Build-Your-Own State Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators (http://www.gtlcenter.org/learning-hub/equitable-access-toolkit/stakeholder-engagement-guide) as well as the Public Agenda discussion guide on equitable access to excellent educators (http://www.publicagenda.org/files/PublicAgenda_Choicework_HowCanWeEnsureThatAllChildrenHaveExcellentTeachers_2015.pdf). We also offered a one-hour webinar training to our discussion facilitators to equip them to lead these meetings in a way that all viewpoints on this complex issue could be heard respectfully and authentically. We heard many perspectives―most notably from teachers who emphasized the importance of effective leadership and working conditions for attracting and retaining effective teachers.
Each meeting had a note taker using the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders note-taking template in Resource 5: Incorporating Stakeholder Feedback—Discussion Planning, Recording, and Summary Forms (http://www.gtlcenter.org/learning-hub/equitable-access-toolkit/stakeholder-engagement-guide), who systematically captured stakeholder feedback and incorporated the feedback from all meetings into memos that were reviewed, discussed by the authors of this plan, and made publicly available through the ADOE website. In between meetings, participants were encouraged to engage more widely with colleagues and communicate back further insights that they gained. These communications were added to the compilation of stakeholder input.
Note: A translator was on-hand at meetings (and helped craft meeting invitation materials in the two most common non-English languages in State A). We provided accommodations for other disabilities by having someone use sign language to communicate with those who are deaf or hard of hearing and provided large print signs and materials for those with a visual disability.
We asked each member of the statewide committee to sign a letter of support to confirm support and assistance in building our state’s equitable access plan. We have included an example letter of support in Appendix D.
We also sought feedback from two task forces: (1) our previously established State A Educator Preparation Task Force, which includes representatives of key advocacy organizations (such as State A branches of the National Council of La Raza, the NAACP, the Urban League, the Learning Disabilities Association, and education preparation partners within State A, as well as those from neighboring states that source many of State A’s educators); and (2) a newly created State A Educator Licensure Task Force (which includes representatives of major civil rights organizations, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders). The Educator Preparation Task Force is ongoing and meets at least three times a year to provide input on how educator preparation programs can be restructured to better meet the needs of State A’s schools, including students from underachieving populations, and be held accountable for doing so. Finally, as warranted, we also will involve the State A Title I Committee of Practitioners in our work, particularly if future activities include making changes to the State A’s Title I regulations and practices.
We will continue to involve stakeholders in our activities going forward through additional meetings, through ongoing two-way feedback loops, and through the support of a statewide Educator Equity Coalition (composed of stakeholder groups), which will oversee the long-term commitment to implementing the strategies in this plan. Each component of State A’s Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators was developed through this collaborative process (see Appendix B for a more detailed timeline of these stakeholder engagement activities). The stakeholder groups will be tapped to add substantive knowledge from their particular perspective to engage in ongoing data reviews, root-cause-analyses, and monitoring and modification of strategies. A few specific examples of our ongoing engagement plans include the following:
Biannual half-day meetings have been established for January and June each year for the Educator Equity Coalition members to review our plan and progress toward achieving equitable access.
In between meetings, coalition members will be required to engage even more widely with additional stakeholders, using structured resources that encourage in-depth conversation that gets to the heart of the issues (see examples on page 4) and to bring the insights back to the coalition to inform the ongoing modification of the State A equitable access plan.
We will connect minority group leaders (e.g., NAACP, La Raza, American Indian groups) to our state data experts to think jointly about what analyses of that year’s data will be helpful in thinking through root causes of our current equity gaps―in particular, related to their constituent groups. Giving these group leaders a chance to dig deeply into current and future data related to the youth for which they are advocating will help provide insight to our team in the long-term improvement of our equitable access work.