RPIC ICS Implementation Digital Module 0: Introduction to the Integrated Comprehensive Systems for Equity Framework and Process
© 2015 to 2023. Elise M. Frattura and Colleen A. Capper. School Modules for ICS Equity. All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, modify, or distribute this work without written consent from the authors. Please email [email protected] to obtain such permission.
1. Current Practices Based on Common Assumptions
What we know is that oppression and marginalization are historical, structural, cultural, and systemic. As a result of that fact, any equity changes we are trying to make must address the entire educational system, or requires what we term equity systems change.
Changing the entire system to the benefit of literally all students in the district can be a formidable and complex task, given that we are pushing against hundreds of years of inequities in education (We will learn more about this educational history in Digital Module 1/Step 1). Districts often ask us, “where do we even begin?”
To simplify the process and to be as pragmatic as possible, we created the Four Cornerstones of Integrated Comprehensive Systems for Equity:
Figure 1: The Four Cornerstones of Integrated Comprehensive Systems for Equity
When addressing students’ educational needs, educational leaders often spend a significant amount of time and resources in Cornerstone 3, Teaching and Learning, believing that fixing the content or delivery of instruction will raise student achievement. Thus, districts will implement, for example, Universal Design for Learning, or culturally relevant pedagogy, or adopt new literacy programs. Yet, we are trying to change classroom practices within a broken system. For example, a third grade teacher may become quite proficient at designing and delivering lessons that are culturally relevant, yet, students of color, students who are multilingual, or students with disabilities often must leave the classroom to go someplace else to get their learning needs met. We will learn in Digital Module 1/Step 1, in the equity research (Digital Module 4/Step 4) and in our equity audit data (Digital Module 6/Step 6) how these practices may not be beneficial to students.
As another example, we may have high school teachers who effectively teach Advanced Placement courses, yet these courses are not demographically representative of the school as a whole. These examples show the limitations of trying to fix the classroom within a broken system.
Other school districts attempt to address inequities within the system by focusing on identity development efforts in Cornerstone 1. Thus, districts may provide professional learning in racial identity development or on becoming more culturally competent educators. Yet, districts then struggle with how to apply this personal learning into school and classroom practices. As one high school principal told us, “We were saying to our Black students how smart and capable they were, but the structure of our school was delivering the opposite message.”
Thus, the Four Cornerstones of ICS Equity address the entire district system. Each of the Four Cornerstones includes a series of ICS Equity Steps. We describe these steps as not a recipe, however, our over thirty years of experience as teachers, administrators, preparing educational leaders at the university, and in partnership with districts has taught us that indeed, the order of the steps makes a significant difference in student outcomes. We have developed a Digital Module for each step in the process.
2. ‘Operationalizing’ Our Work
The following section describes the ‘Operationalizing’ of the work through the ICS Equity implementation process and the three teaming structures necessary to accomplish the goals of each Cornerstone.
The ICS Equity Implementation Process
Figure 2: The ICS Equity Implementation Process
ICS Equity Overview: Based on implementation science, the ICS Implementation Process includes the following (see Figure 2 above). First, we provide a 2.5 hour overview for the District Leadership Team (DLT) (see details on the DLT below) and district principals. This overview provides more information about the ICS Framework and Process (using the Overview slides attached to the bottom of this Digital Module). The overview ensures that the School Leadership Team (SLT) membership is confirmed (see more details below) and prepares the DLT and principals for the ICS Equity Institute Part 1.
ICS Equity Institute Part 1: The ICS Equity Institute Part 1 spans 3 days. All members of the DLT and SLT attend ICS Equity Institute Part 1. School board members are invited as well. At this event, teams learn about the ICS Framework and Process. We address all of the steps in the process, emphasizing Digital Modules/Steps 1-6. ICS Equity facilitators facilitate each of the ICS Equity Digital Modules/Steps during the Institute, modeling for teams, how the teams will then be able to facilitate each Digital Module with the staff in their school. Nearly all that we say at the Institute for each Digital Module/Step is included in the written content of each Digital Module. Each of the activities we engage in for each Digital Module at the Institutes are included within each of the Digital Modules. The powerpoint slides that we show at the Institute for each Digital Module are attached to the bottom of each Digital Module.
In the first academic year of implementation, following attending ICS Equity Institute Part 1, the overarching goal of the SLT includes planning and facilitating Digital Modules 0-6 with staff. To do so, the SLT meets at least one hour per month to plan the facilitation. The SLT then meets at least one hour per month to facilitate that module with all staff.
Also, in the first academic year of implementation, the DLT meets at least once a month for one hour to work through the district leadership team modules. Details on this are included below.
In addition, the ICS Equity Coaching begins in Year 1 following the ICS Equity Institute Part 1. We provide coaching 4 times a year for 3 years, where we meet with each SLT and the DLT for 75 minutes to check in on progress, questions, hiccups, and provide guidance on next steps, coaching forward to the next Digital Module.
Year 2 of ICS Equity implementation focuses on preparing staff to function as Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) teams. The actual function of C3 teams occurs in Year 3, with the focus of Year 2 being on preparing teams to do so.
ICS Equity Institute Part 2 – Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3): This event spans 3 days and includes a check-in on progress on Digital Modules 0-6 and then focuses on Digital Modules 7, 8, 9, and all the details of C3 teams, including how to establish the teams with aligning staff expertise to student needs (Digital Module 7), the details of team function including how to schedule times to meet, the team agenda, preparation for and execution of the team time, the role of the ICS Equity Skills at a Glance, and team member roles (Digital Module 8). The event also includes details on how C3 teams design rigorous, identity relevant lessons that include the most effective teaching strategies (Digital Module 9).
In academic year 2, the SLT facilitates Digital Modules 7-12 with the staff. To do so, the SLT continues to meet once per month for one hour to plan each Digital Module facilitation and then meets at least once a month for one hour with all staff to facilitate each Digital Module. The DLT continues working through the DLT Digital Modules.
Similar to Year 1, ICS Equity coaching continues in Year 2.
The foundational shift to C3 teams with staff expertise aligned to students who are proportionally assigned usually occurs in Year 3, for other schools the shift may occur in Year 4. Similar to Years 1 and 2, ICS Equity coaching continues.
Data Shifts: Though, ICS implementation occurs across three years, we do not need to wait for 3 years for positive shifts in equity data. Instead, positive shifts in the equity data often occur within Year 1 and going forward, while working through Cornerstone 1, Digital Modules 1-6. This positive data shift within and after Year 1 results, in part, simply from the shifts in educator perspectives about students and families from deficit to assets-based, which results in perhaps small but significant shifts in educator expectations of students and within classroom practice, as educators understand the history of public education and challenges to the current educational structure in their schools for students and staff (Digital Module 1), and begin to see all students as smart and capable while realizing the importance of person-first, assets-based language in how we talk about students and families (Digital Module 2). Within Year 1, educators begin to seek out and begin to integrate the funds of knowledge of each student and their families (Gonzalez, Moll, & Amanti, 2005) into their lessons (Digital Module 2). Educators begin to become more self-aware of their own identity development and that of others different from themselves, including the students and families in their own classrooms (Digital Module 3). Educators begin to have a better understanding of the equity research and to what extent their school and classroom practices reflect that research (Digital Module 4) and how principles of excellence based on that research (Digital Module 5) can guide their practices. Finally, the equity audit data (Digital Module 6) reflects back on the current school structure and provides a measurable baseline for progress.
The ICS Equity Implementation process described above represent the best implementation of the ICS Equity Framework and Process and have yielded the most positive outcomes in districts and schools.
ICS Community Equity Ally Academy: Many districts opt to include the ICS Equity Community Equity Ally Academy as part of the ICS Implementation Process. This opportunity occurs after at least one semester of the SLT’s Digital Module implementation with staff. This Academy is designed for community members who represent the demographics of the district, and occurs over a period of 4 sessions of 2.5 hours each session. The event introduces community members to the ICS Framework and Process, identifies ways the community can support the work, and provides information on how community members can take key aspects of the ICS Framework and Process back to their own spheres of influence in the community (e.g., churches, community organization, and workplaces).
ICS School Board Academy: Many districts also opt to include the ICS Equity School Board Academy as part of the ICS Implementation Process. This Academy includes 12 hours of learning time divided as either six, 2 hour sessions or four, 3 hour sessions. Some districts opt for the School Board Academy in the second semester or after the first year of implementation. Other districts offer the School Board Academy prior to or along with their SLT and DLT engaging in the implementation in Year 1. School board members can also be invited to the ICS Equity Overview and the ICS Equity Institute Part 1. Designed specifically for school board members, the Academy helps board members to understand the ICS Framework and Process and how the Principles of Excellence (Digital Module 5) can guide all of their decision-making around policy.
Five Key Features of the ICS Equity Framework and Process
First, the ICS Equity Framework and Process provides a framework and process for all of the district’s efforts going forward. ICS Equity is not a program, it is not an initiative, it is not a model, and it is not a set of diversity workshops. Instead, we define as equity as high-quality teaching and learning for all students, and that should be the focus of all the district’s work.
Second, ICS Equity advances the learning of literally all students. Many view equity as a zero-sum game. That is, that this work is about a certain group of students. For families who believe their children are currently succeeding in schools, they may wonder that if we engage in this work, then what is going to happen to their own children in the process. Yet, the data from districts implementing the work and the research shows that literally all students benefit from the work. Students currently succeeding in the system benefit and students currently struggling in the system also benefit. A rising tide lifts all boats.
Third, ICS Equity is research and evidenced-based, developed from over 45 years of research and as evidenced from districts engaged in the work.
Fourth, ICS Equity develops the “collective equity capacity” of all educators via the District Leadership Team (DLT) and the School Leadership Teams (SLT’s) who learn about the Framework and Process and who learn how to facilitate the work with all staff.
Fifth, ICS Equity holds itself accountable based on the equity audit (Digital Module 6), in that we expect measurable progress that informs the ongoing improvement of the work.
The Three ICS Equity Teams:
The creation of three teams within the school and school district are essential to implement the ICS Equity Framework and Process:
- The District Leadership Team
- The School Leadership Team
- The Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Team
The goal of all three teams is to develop each other’s collective equity capacityTM to eliminate inequities. The teams develop their collective equity capacity by working through the ICS Equity Digital Modules with all staff as we detail in the next sections.
District Leadership Team:
The District Leadership Team (DLT) is usually comprised of members of the district office (e.g., the superintendent, human resources administrator, business administrator, curriculum and instruction director, director of special education and student services, technology director, and other key district office administrators).
The District Leadership Team’s primary role is to support the schools in the implementation of the ICS Equity Framework and Process.
A second primary role of the DLT is to ensure that the district sends a consistent and sustained message about the importance of ICS implementation. In so doing, the DLT will ensure that all decisions align with the district’s equity non-negotiables or principles of excellence (see Digital Module 5). The DLT will also complete a three to five-year plan (see Digital Module 15 for the ICS Multi-Year Equity Action Plan).
Each member of the DLT is assigned as a district liaison for each School Leadership Team (SLT). In that role, the DLT member will attend each of the SLT meetings that focus on planning the ICS Equity Digital Module facilitation and also attend each of the SLT staff sessions where the SLT will facilitate each Digital Module with the staff. In attending these meetings, depending on the expertise of the DLT member, the DLT member could address ICS implementation questions, or learn from the SLT. The DLT should then schedule a regular time at least monthly for each DLT member to check in on the ICS Equity progress and challenges they have experienced at the schools.
The DLT also meets at least once per month for at least one hour to work through the ICS Equity District Digital Modules. That work becomes the entire focus of the meeting. To do that work, we suggest that two members of the DLT volunteer to lead the facilitation of each Digital Module for the rest of the DLT. DLT members should come prepared by reading the assigned Digital Module in advance of the meeting. Similar to the SLT’s ICS Equity work, it will more than likely take more than one, one hour session to work through one Digital Module.
“Working through the Digital Module” means reading the Digital Module, completing the activities within the Digital Module, the DLT partner pair who facilitate the module rely on the powerpoint slides attached to the end of the Digital Module, and the DLT together completing the Completing Our Plan fillable form at the end of each Digital Module.
The DLT also helps School Leadership Teams schedule time once a month to plan the Digital Module facilitation or once a month as part of professional learning time to facilitate the Digital Modules with all staff.
School Leadership Team:
School Leadership Team (SLT) membership includes the principal, a general education teacher from each grade level, an allied arts teacher, and a special education teacher, a teacher of students who are multilingual, a teacher of students labeled gifted, an interventionist, reading teacher, and school psychologist. The School Leadership Team includes about 8-10 members. This team should stay intact for the entire three years of the ICS Equity implementation (see the expectations included below).
School Leadership Team Expectations:
1. The School Leadership Team (SLT) attends all three days of the ICS Equity Institute Part 1 (3 days in year 1) and of ICS Equity Institute Part 2 (3 days in Year 2).
2. All SLT team members meet as a team at least once per month, for at least one hour to plan the facilitation of the Digital Modules (District office helps SLT’s to make this time.).
3. All SLT members meet at least once a month, for one hour to facilitate the current Digital Module with the rest of the staff (District office helps SLT’s to make this time). Please see the meeting template attached at the end of this Digital Module.
4. All SLT members meet with the ICS Equity Coach for 75 minutes, 4 times per academic year for 3 years.
Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams (see more details in Digital Modules/Steps 7, 8, and 9)
The C3 Teams are comprised of teachers who are best able to share each other’s expertise and develop their Collective Equity Capacity to better serve the range of learners at their grade level, block, house, or academy (smaller unit of students who are proportionally represented).
Members of the Co-Plan to Co-Serve to Co-Learn (C3) Teams should include all individuals assigned to the specific grade level, academy, block, or content area, to educate a proportional representation of students. Each C3 Team must include those teachers that best can support the range of students at that grade level through the sharing of each other’s expertise. That is, if the general educators have a strong reading background, it may be better for the reading teacher to spend more time with the team who has less of a background and experience in reading. In addition, school social workers, guidance counselors, the school psychologist, gifted and talented teachers, speech and language pathologists, or other support people may be asked to focus on a particular C3 Teams for a variety of reasons.
3. Creating Our Plan for ICS Digital Module 0/Step 0 Introduction to ICS Equity
Attached at the bottom of this Digital Module, teams will find the ICS Equity Action Template. The template includes:
– A brief summary of the key activities for each ICS Equity Digital Module/Step that the School Leadership Team will work through themselves as a team, and then with all the staff;
– A column to describe current knowledge of the staff related to that Digital Module/Step, such that the team can build on that knowledge when facilitating the Digital Module with staff;
– A column for the team to reflect on aspects they should remember/consider when facilitating each particular Digital Module with staff,
– And next steps for the team to best prepare themselves to facilitate that particular Digital Module with staff.
Capper, C. & Frattura, E. (2009). Meeting the needs of students of all abilities: How leaders go beyond inclusion. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Frattura, E. & Capper, C. (2007). New Teacher Teams to Support Integrated Comprehensive Education. TEC.
Gonzalez, N., Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (Eds.). (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.