Steven Goode, Martford Courant, April 3, 2013
The contract is signed and the Loyola University consultant who will be conducting a three- year Excellence and Equity Review at Windsor High School will begin work this weekend with a community meeting.
But the most crucial step in the $328,000 study to close the achievement gap among Windsor’s minority students may take place Monday when the consultant, Marlon James, an assistant professor at Loyola in Chicago, meets with the high school faculty and union representatives. James will discuss his view that white teachers, who represent about 90 percent of educators, have an implicit bias that leads them to expect less from minority students.
According to the contract between the university and Windsor schools, the objective for the first year of the study will be to gather and process “data on what philosophies, practices, politics and policies that support and/or impede closing the achievement gap,” and “examine every aspect of learning, teaching and leadership critical to student achievement.”
To that end the consultants will be reviewing 10 years worth of documentation related to board of education meetings, school improvement plans, disciplinary and achievement data and other educational information related to the district.
“We’re really trying to delve into what’s in place,” schools superintendent Jeffrey Villar said. “They’re going to give our system a thorough work over.”
Villar, who came under fire from some school board members about the cost and focus of the project and the manner in which it was approved, said he supported it because he wants to find the answer to Windsor’s achievement gap.
Villar was able to put criticism over the cost of the project to rest by getting the state Department of Education to agree to fund it through an alliance grant Windsor is receiving because it is among the poorest performing districts in the state.
But some board members are still concerned that in the end teachers will be blamed and labeled as “biased.”
According to the contract, year two of the study will include a focus on building corporate and community partnerships for students. The final year, according to the contract, will “revisit the Excellence and Equity Review to determine the level of commitment, change and capacity for sustaining equity work at WHS.”
[Editor’s Note: According to this website, Windsor High School is 54 percent black, 32 percent white, and 10 percent Hispanic.]