Equity and Access
WS/FCS will ensure equal and equitable access to quality instruction and strive to eliminate barriers to rigorous and diverse opportunities. WS/FCS will provide quality instructional facilities and learning environments for all students.
Objectives include: increasing enrollment of underrepresented groups in advanced courses and reducing disproportional discipline and special education identification.
- Objective A – Increase enrollment and equitable access to AIG, CTE, AP/IB, Dual Enrollment (College and Career Promise), and other advanced opportunities at all schools by expanding course offerings.
- Objective B – Reduce discipline disproportionality.
- Objective C – Reduce the number of students identified in the category of serious emotional disabilities.
- Objective D – Create an equitable and transparent process for capital outlay projects.
In October 2020, the WS/FCS Executive Director or Equity, Access, and Acceleration expressed to the State Board of Education during their annual fall retreat October 2020 that the district has set forth a bold strategic plan to work towards closing opportunity gaps and advancing educational equity.
Response to COVID
COVID-19 brought about new challenges for WS/FCS and, in many ways, shined a spotlight on inequities across our community leading the district to re-examine itself, problem solve, and seek solutions in ways the district has never done before. Therefore, several efforts were developed and implemented to mitigate the challenges for students and families brought on by the pandemic.
- WS/FCS deployed school-based and community-based CARES Teams as a direct service to families. The school-based teams were tasked to serve as the first line of intervention for students; however, when issues could not be resolved at the school level the community-based team intervened.
- To assist with technological barriers, 20 Wi-Fi buses were parked in communities where there was limited access to internet/broadband and the Department of Technology distributed thousands of Chromebooks and hotspots so that studenst could continue learning from home.
- The district partnered alongside The Forsyth Promise andvarious churches, non-profits, Imprints, City of Winston-Salem Parks and Recreation, and the YMCA to establish remote learning centers. These centers, some at no cost, served as safe spaces where students could engage in remote learning.
Equity Advisory Council
WS/FCS has established an Equity Advisory Council which consists of 18 stakeholders. This group will meet 3-4 times yearly to discuss and provide input, advice, and/or feedback on equity-related initiatives and issues. The first meeting of the advisory council was held January 14, 2021.
WS/FCS Advanced Learning (AL) departments are working to increase awareness of opportunities available to all students including an intentional focus on students who are traditionally underrepresented in our Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) program, Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and College and Career Promise (CCP) courses. Current actions include:
- revising the AIG plan to include multiple pathways for identification including a portfolio process and challenging high school leaders to identify, mentor, and enroll five or more students from underrepresented groups who have traditionally been overlooked or have not been interested or encouraged to participate, and
- collaboration with the North Carolina School of Math and Science has begun with the goal of bringing more rigorous learning opportunities including the STEM Scholars program, which is designed for underrepresented minority student populations.
In alignment with the strategic plan objectives to address discipline disproportionality, WS/FCS has already completed a deep dive into its discipline data and convened a steering committee that will:
- begin unpacking the data and establishing a timeline to review and revise discipline policies, and
- engage stakeholders regarding the development of a new district-wide discipline code of conduct.
As WS/FCS works to improve the culture and climate of schools, the district has already partnered with Triad Restorative Justice to provide Restorative Practices training to two local high schools and School Resource Officers.
WS/FCS Exceptional Children’s (EC) department has also been working to address disproportionate student EC identification. To date, members of the district have engaged in the ARISE Project NC. This project is a state offered professional development to support problem solving and implementation of various strategies such as:
- hiring a behavior coach to support schools with behavioral implementation plans,
- conducting early re-evaluations to stay more current with student needs, and
- implementing processes to ensure all possible explanations are explored before students are identified into a category.