Context Matters: Equitable School Improvement Is a Work of ART
CitationBryant, Dia. 2020. Context Matters: Equitable School Improvement Is a Work of ART. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractWhen he was named New York City schools Chancellor in 2018, Richard Carranza promised to advance equity for the city’s 1.1M students. Shortly thereafter, despite substantial budget cuts at City Hall, his First Deputy Chancellor, Cheryl Watson-Harris, secured $10M to launch Academic Response Teams.
Academic Response Teams represented a fundamental shift from a one-size-fits-all school support model to one that is focused on co-constructing unique supports with individual school communities. Academic Response Teams serve as a vehicle in the quest to deliver on equity promises through deliberate, contextually driven actions. Providing contextually-fit school improvement support is a unique challenge for a mature, bureaucratic organization that serves an enormous variety of students across a myriad of demographic and socioeconomic markers.
In the 2019-2020 school year, I was charged with engineering, erecting and launching Academic Response Teams. Academic Response Teams serviced nearly 140 schools and approximately 80,000 students throughout all five boroughs. All reforms vary in their success, but herein is an attempt to answer whether a reform is more successful when it is aligned to the aspirations of local communities. It also explores the barriers that such a reform encounters.
Nested in the Office of the First Deputy Chancellor, Academic Response Teams Advance Equity Now using improvement science and school-level context as the driver for the design of school support. However, this reform is not disentangled from the history and cadence of change in the New York City Department of Education, because all change sits atop other institutional knowledge. While there are changes in infrastructure or processes, there remain organizational memories, routines and habits throughout the organization. What leadership actions are necessary to orient teams toward equity-centered change?
This capstone elevates the learnings, themes and lessons that emerged when New York City Public schools used local context to drive school support.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364854