Equal opportunity for all

Nawal Abdul

Northwood’s plan to close the opportunity gap for students continues, as the partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS), an organization that collaborates with schools to ensure equal student access to high level classes, enters its second year. EOS’ mission is to ensure that students of all backgrounds have access to academically rigorous classes, a response to the well-documented achievement gap that exists within American high schools.

Specifically on the Northwood campus, the administration is examining racial and gender diversity in existing AP and Honors classes, in hopes to understand barriers to student enrollment in those classes.

“We are reviewing current policies and messaging, as a school, that may dissuade some students from challenging themselves in courses, despite having an interest,” said Assistant Principal Kortney Tambara, who heads the initiative’s committee.

The first step in this process is a schoolwide survey, which will be administered today during our special schedule. Designed by EOS, the survey identifies students with a growth mindset and other key indicators for success in high-level classes. It also asks students to identify a trusted adult and for student feedback on their perceptions of the school. The data and feedback is then reviewed by the EOS team of teachers and administrators, which includes a representative from every department.

The survey provides insight into which students had potential for success in AP and Honors classes but decided not to take them. The teachers use this data to make recommendations for classes these students should be encouraged to try, and then reaches out to those students before spring enrollment.

Though it’s too early to have any quantitative data on how these new policies are affecting students, pieces of the program have already taken effect. Last year’s Elective Fair was an attempt to showcase all the options available to students. During spring conference week, teachers signed off all students into all classes they were eligible for, rather than just signing off classes for those who asked. By creating awareness of the possibilities for students, the EOS committee hopes to make students more intentional with conscious of their class selection, rather than wanting a class load that is generally perceived as easier or harder for the sake of the desired difficulty.

The survey today is important for the EOS committee, so be sure to let your voice be heard.