- Jennifer Lima
What's an "Equity Audit"? Why do one?
NK School Department's Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) Subcommittee has recommended to the full school committee that the district contract with an outside vendor to perform a DEI Community Assessment, commonly referred to as an "equity audit." This recommendation will be on an agenda at an upcoming school committee meeting.
There has been a lot of misinformation on social media about what an equity audit is, why it's done, and what the intended outcome is. Below is a summary that I hope will provide clarification. I urge you to follow the links and also to do your own research on this subject. If you believe, as I do, that an equity audit will benefit the district, please share your support with the members of the NK school committee. If you have concerns, please share those as well. Feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions or for additional information.
NK School Committee Member
In March 2021, the NKSC voted to approve the DEI subcommittee, whose mission, meeting minutes and agendas, and other key documents are posted on this continuously updated website. Note especially that its stated strategies and goals include:
A review, led by the DEI Advisory Special Subcommittee, to evaluate district-wide programs through an equity lens.
The development and enhancement of professional knowledge, skill sets, and implementation strategies relative to anti-racism, cultural competence, cultural responsiveness, and implicit and explicit bias;
The establishment of systemic equity and inclusivity practices; and
The professional learning, support, and resources needed to develop and implement culturally responsive instruction and curriculum
The subcommittee decided that an equity audit conducted by an outside party was the best way to accomplish these goals. In October 2021, an RFP (Request for Proposal) for a DEI Community Assessment (equity audit) was generated. Both proposals that came in are on our website.
An audit is defined as an official inspection of an individual's or organization's accounts, typically by an independent body. The NK school committee just received the results of our annual financial audit. The company I work for conducts an ISO audit every six months. I’m sure many of you have experienced other types of audits either in your personal or professional lives. An audit is not a condemnation. It’s an opportunity to highlight strengths and weaknesses and to determine what, if any, process changes are needed.
We talked a lot in a recent DEI subcommittee meeting about how “we don’t know what we don’t know." Studies have shown that many educators continue to underestimate the degree to which achievement and opportunity gaps are present in their schools and districts. They often avoid discussing the structural causes of inequity, instead attributing achievement gaps to students' home life or their genetics.
After evaluating the two responses to our RFP, the DEI Subcommittee is recommending that NKSD contract with Public Consulting Group's proposal, as written, to conduct a full-scale DEI community assessment that will examine all aspects of the educational process including board policy, district programming, curriculum and instruction, human resource practices, budget allocations, and NKSD’s culture and climate. The audit as proposed would cost $73,250, and it is anticipated that we will be able to use Esser III funds to pay for this if approved.