Monday, October 17, 2016


The problem in U.S. Educational systems is simply stated, but very complex in nature: American schools were never designed to authentically educate students of color. Instead, schools in the United States marginalize and under-educate children of color, especially in STEM-foundational thinking and instructional activities. In order to address issues of disproportionality and racial predictability in the lowest and highest achieving students, teachers must “engage [staff] in narratives that compel [them] to synthesize [their] knowledge and transform it into direct and measurable action” (Singleton, 2013, p. 7). Engaging every staff member is essential for implementing a STEM-equity leadership effort thereby closing these STEM opportunity gaps. In order to design equitable learning experiences that support traditionally underperforming students of color, we, as educational leaders, need to develop adequate indicators for the capacity of elementary schools to close STEM inequity gaps. Teachers need to be trained using stronger pedagogical frameworks that support marginalized students and accurately measure their success. The current metrics used, which determine the efficacy of pedagogical practices to close equity gaps, are not sufficient. For example, state standardized testing such as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) are not authentic indicators of the capacity for schools to close equity gaps. PARCC and other state measures are proximal indicators of student achievement, representing second- and third-hand effects of effective gap-closing efforts at the school and district level. I feel that academic growth, achievement, and assessment, no matter the design, all need to be authentic and culturally relevant to all learners. Students should not fear assessments because they should be presented as opportunities to share their knowledge, and or progress toward a learning goal, with the teacher. Teachers should not fear assessments because they should be received as such. Nothing punitive. Nothing final. Just a snapshot of where each learner is on the continuum of growth. I believe that educational leaders need to guide schools through multiple conversations speculating what the most accurate measures of success would be if applied an equity lens, and pinpointing the design of learning experiences and support traditionally underperforming, vulnerable student. These students, continuously marginalized by systemic prejudice and inequity, should be an active participants in setting their learning goals and action plans for achieving those goals. Student growth in STEM foundational thinking is measurable. STEM-foundational thinking connects principles of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to solve problems face by individuals in society. Pedagogy focused on STEM-foundational thinking and instructional activities instills a deep and extensive understanding of STEM content applied in real-world contexts. I feel that both students and teachers should be driven more by design thinking than by data. Teaching is an interaction and relationship between a teacher and a child. If one compromises this relationship in order to gain in standardized test scores, then they will be disappointed by the results. I believe that true academic achievement lies in creating a lasting, collaborative partnership between the teacher, student, and the community.