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Schoolwide Approach to Addressing Opportunity Gaps

Wydown's production of Disney's Moana Jr.

Wydown Middle School, (Clayton, MO). Wydown Middle School prides itself on being a top-performing school in Missouri; however, we have struggled with closing the opportunity gaps for our African American students. After we set goals, we evaluated systems and structures, and prioritized immediate actions. We hosted evening fishbowl conversations with parents about their experiences. We elicited input from student focus groups. Through our Social Justice Club, students prepared town hall meetings for our staff. We heard from our African American males and females about their experiences.

We analyzed discipline data which led to the training of all staff in Restorative Practices. Subsequently, we changed our referral form by removing ambiguous language that plagued some of our African American males. We also added a restorative component to the form by asking teachers to call a parent prior to submitting the referral and schedule a meeting with all involved parties. In addition, one of our administrators led a series of professional development workshops on Culturally Responsive Classroom Management.

After training and book studies, staff started Instructional Accountability Walk-throughs centered around culturally responsive teaching. After each series of classroom observations, staff analyzed strengths, improvement, and the areas needing growth. From this walk-through data, we restructured our intervention programs, as they seemed to be dominated by our African American students. We also overhauled our grading practices with the aim toward equity.

While Wydown has organized an Educational March for Justice, led restorative conversations, offered vibrant Black History programs, and implemented important changes to our curriculum, we are ever-mindful that we need to push farther, both in our space and in our teaching. Wydown Middle School strives to have every corner of our building be one with positive self and cultural affirmations.