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Kettering schools to host meetings to discuss ‘equity in education’

By Wayne Baker, Staff Writer

KETTERING —The Kettering City School District is partnering with Learn to Earn Dayton to hold community wide conversations to assist the district in closing achievement and opportunity gaps among subgroups of students.

The Ohio Department of Education identifies subgroups as all students who are American Indian, Alaskan Native Asian/Pacific Islander, black non-Hispanic, Hispanic multiracial white, non-Hispanic economically disadvantaged students with disabilities, and English learners.

Dan Von Handorf, assistant superintendent of Teaching & Learning for Kettering schools, told the Dayton Daily News that during an 18-month period beginning in 2017, the schools engaged with more than 100 individuals representative of the Kettering community including parents, staff members, students, city staff, service group members, members of faith-based organizations, professionals from local colleges and universities and local business and industry members in order to develop a strategic plan.

The strategic plan, “A Blueprint for Student Success,” outlines four main focus areas: Student Success, Culture, Whole Person and Strategic Partnerships, that will guide the district in its day-to-day operations and long-term goals and objectives.

He added that during the course of the more than a year-and-a-half of discussions among the members of the strategic plan committee, it was determined through both anecdotal accounts and data analysis that some student subgroups across the Kettering City Schools are not achieving at a level equal to their peers.

Similarly, third-grade reading data also indicates a significant achievement gap across the district among subgroups and their peers.

“These findings are in direct contradiction with the mission of the Kettering City School District to partner with the family and community to guarantee a superior educational experience, within a positive and innovative learning environment, for all students,” Von Handorf said.

As a result, the district established a task force charged with identifying opportunity gaps and recommending successful methods for removing roadblocks to student success and that led to a partnership with Learn to Earn.

Learn to Earn Dayton is an effort that brings together educators, business leaders, major foundations and politicians in a movement to enhance the county’s ability to grow a more educated workforce by 2025.

The non-profit with a $900,000 annual budget is focusing its cradle to career efforts on boosting kindergarten readiness and third-grade reading proficiency, successful transition of students into high school and, increasing the number of workers with a postsecondary certificate or degree.

With this in mind, the district and Learn to Earn Dayton have scheduled a number of opportunities for members of the Kettering community to weigh in on identifying the top barriers to student success, as well as helping to identify concrete ways that the Kettering Schools can address these achievement gaps so that every child can achieve and succeed.

“Learn to Earn Dayton is a great community partner for local schools and is able to work through grant funding to allow opportunities, such as these community conversation sessions, to take place at no cost to the school district. We are hoping to get honest, actionable feedback during these sessions that a parent or student may not feel entirely comfortable saying to a teacher or school administrator,” Von Handorf explained.

Members of the Kettering City Schools community are invited to attend one of the five upcoming “Want to Talk About Equity in Education” community conversations that will be held through the end of February.

“Participants in these community conversations will be asked questions such as ‘What do you feel are the top three barriers to student success in the Kettering Schools,’ ‘How can our schools and/or community address opportunity or achievement gaps’ and ‘If our school system could do ONE thing to help ALL students achieve and grow, what would it be?’” Von Handorf said.

Registration is required, and participation is limited to 25 for each group conversation. Call Sara Morrisey at 937-499-1456 to reserve a spot.

Each attendee will receive a $25 Walmart gift card for participating. Administrators will not be in attendance at the community

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