RPIC ICS Implementation Digital Module 12: Cross-Check Policy and Procedures
© 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
District policies and procedures often support federal and state legislation that was developed either in response to a deficit-based system or as part of a deficit-based system. Therefore, school district leaders often feel compelled to write policies that they know goes against proactive educational opportunities for students based on best practice and research. Deficit-based rhetoric often provides leaders with the opportunity to leverage such legislation in a proactive manner. For example, legislation that requires students to pass the third grade reading assessment or to be retained in third grade unless the teacher can provide other evidence of support, often results in increased retention at the third grade level, thereby perpetuating a deficit-based system. When district policies and procedures are aligned to the Equity Non-Negotiables, policies can be written in support of proactive student-led parent/teacher conferences using artifacts that support each child’s ability to meet the grade-level standards. In this manner, all children have evidence to support their work at the third grade level and to avoid a deficit-based practice of retention (that is both emotionally and academically harmful), while promoting self-advocacy, assessment capable learners (Hattie, 2012), and Identity Relevant Teaching and Learning (IRTL).
In addition, mixed messages are often provided based on “good intentions” and deficit-based policies and procedures. For example, if the district’s mission states, “we believe all children can learn and be successful”, the policy on discipline referrals must consider the fact that when students are suspended that they are not able to learn from content teachers. Often our policies stand in opposition to our Equity Non-Negotiables. Therefore, it is imperative that the School Board and community members understand the Equity Non-Negotiables and the importance of realigning all district and school policies and procedures to the Equity Non-Negotiables.
2. Equitable Best Practices
In Table 1 below are examples of three policies and procedures that perpetuate a deficit-based model that marginalizes students along with the suggested alternative practices:
- First, policies that require students to be retained are not proactive and are not supported by retention research. Thus, district policy regarding retention must recognize the severe impact that retention has on students and that the practice always blames the student and neglects to acknowledge or address instructional/design flaws.
- Second, policies and procedures regarding student discipline, especially those having to do with student suspension and expulsion, should be carefully examined to ensure that they align with proactive principles and practices. The goal of student discipline should not be to “get rid of ” students but to problem-solve different strategies in support of their success.
- As a third and final example, the entire procedure to assess children in order to determine their eligibility for specific programs is extremely flawed and often works against the development of proactive services. The more proactive school districts become, the less children are referred for any type of program, as it is no longer necessary.
Table 1: Examples of Proactive Policy and Procedures Recommendations
3. ‘Operationalizing’ Our Work
It is essential to create a system where policies and procedures can be re-evaluated against the district’s Equity Non-Negotiables for proactive education. Often times districts choose to do this work as part of their policy revision cycle. Some policies are more pertinent than others, therefore rather than continue with current policy, despite its contradictions to the Equity Non-Negotiables, it should be revised as soon as possible. That is, policies related to the implementation of curriculum and instruction, discipline, Title 1 supports, special education, English Language Learners, and so forth, should be revised immediately. District Leadership Teams often can determine the policies most essential to revise compared to their Equity Non-Negotiables. The list of policies selected for immediate revisions are then forwarded to the School Board’s Policy and Procedure Committee. Many districts choose to provide recommended changes based on their Equity Non-Negotiables. The most appropriate time to continue the dialogue of the importance of the Equity Non-Negotiables and how to operationalize such Equity Non-Negotiables is when the information is presented to the School Board.
4. Creating Our Plan: Cornerstone 4: Leverage Policy and Funding; Digital Module 12/Step 12: Cross-Check Policy and Procedures:
In the next ICS Application, you’ll discuss and then identify the current practices that must be interrupted, and discuss future recommendations of how to share the information in this Digital Module along with the steps necessary to ‘operationalize’ such recommendations.
Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.