Strategic Diversity Plan Outline
Located in Benton County, Bentonville Schools proudly serves as a beacon of engagement and achievement for students in Northwest Arkansas. Recently, Niche.com has awarded Bentonville Schools as #1 school district in Arkansas. Founded in 1841, Bentonville has continued to serve the needs of its students through rapid growth and expansion of Northwest Arkansas. Bentonville Schools current Statistical Data Report shows the district serves almost 17,000 students across twenty-two (22) campuses. The student to teacher ratio is 14:1. When looking at diversity, Bentonville Schools serves a largely Caucasian (73%) group but does educate wide selection of ethnicities. The breakdown is as follows: 73 % Caucasian, 11% Hispanic, 6% Asian, 4% African American, 1% Native American, and 0% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. Gateway is centrally located in town and receives students from both Bentonville High School and the recently opened Bentonville West High School. Currently, Gateway (which is an alternative learning environment) serves ninety-two (92) students during the day program while our night school component has eight (8) students working towards graduation. Our current breakdown of students is 77% Caucasian, 14% Hispanic, 6% African American, and 2% Asian.
Bentonville Schools Mission Statement
Bentonville Schools is committed to excellence in all we do through innovative, inspiring learning experiences. This happens through collaboration, dedication, and innovative teaching practices.
Where are we today?
According to our annual report, we are making strides with our TAGG students. The term “TAGG” refers to targeted achievement gap group. Concerning ELA results, African-American students scored “ready and exceeding” has grown from 50.35% to 58.74% from 2016 to 2017. In regards to Hispanic students, the percentages of “ready and exceeding” has risen from 55.57% in 2016 to 66.07% in 2017. In fact, the economically disadvantaged group had the highest gains by increasing 12.33% (44.3% to 56.65%).
Students in these TAGG groups have shown similar gains in regards to their Mathematics results. African-American students have displayed gains of 6.3% (43.31 to 49.61). Our Hispanic students have made great strides by jumping up 11.5% (55.07 to 66.57). In regards to those considered economically disadvantaged, those students still rose 8.3% (44.3 to 52.6). Overall, we are making strides.
Where do we need to be?
Bentonville’s goal of committed excellence is paying off through the gains with in our TAGG students. Our collaborative processes are allowing the use of data to make the proper interventions and decisions to refer to “what is being learned” and “who is/isn’t learning.” Unfortunately, our graduation rates among some TAGG groups is not where it needs to be. Our Hispanic students have a lower graduation rate in 2016 than the three-year composite score ((82.52 vs. 85.79). In addition, the same is said for our economically disadvantaged students (77.57 vs 80.77). However, our African American students are exceeding expectations (96.97 vs 90.32). Currently, at Gateway, we have a graduation rate of 88%.
How do we get there?
Bentonville Schools/Gateway is committed to providing smaller, individualized academic settings for our ninth through twelfth-grade students. Through smaller classes and a lower student/teacher ratio, Gateway can create an environment in which all student achieves some success. For all the good we do, Gateway still can do more. The support we provide during the day can extend beyond to meet the needs of our minority students. Through academic and social supports provided through an after-school program, we can provide extra supports that can boost grades and improve graduation rates.
Bentonville, while largely Caucasian, is slowly becoming more diverse with the students we serve. Wal-Mart and the global economy that has created an influx of people to Northwest Arkansas. In recognizing that diversity, the need has arisen to do things differently. The level of support that our diverse populations need has grown beyond the conventional school day. In addition, the district needs to recognize the need to recruit more diversity among the staff. By accessing diversity in the various local businesses, students can make connections to local business personnel in hope that our students can be inspired and gain insights into possible career opportunities.
The purpose of the strategic plan is to provide background data so that administration can be aware of the changing face of the district and be true to our vision. By knowing what diversity exists and where it is growing, our leadership can start planning the best way to meet the changing needs of our students. Although numbers are lower than surrounding districts, the changing landscape of the area must be a reminder to be proactive in the approach of “what is best” for students.
In our text, Koppelman (2016) defines diversity as “the presence of human beings with perceived or actual differences based on a variety of human characteristics” (p.13). Be it gender, race, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, these differences are all present in the hallways of Gateway and Bentonville Schools. We need to celebrate and accept the differences that make us a pluralistic body.
By understanding that the world is a diverse entity, our goal in Bentonville is to create situations in which students are able to accept differences and be able to collaborate with others. This will encourage a deeper understanding of the changing world and allow for a shared feeling of responsibility, growing empathy, and respect for others.
Overview of the Target Population
Gateway has 14% Hispanic students, 7% African-American students, and 2% Asians in our cultural makeup. Many of these students attend regularly but there is a lack of parental involvement with the campus. While many of our diverse students work, the job level they maintain after graduation are minimum wage jobs. In two years, only a handful of minority students that have enrolled in college. In addition, Gateway has one minority educator. We have noticed that our diverse students tend to rely on her for information and gravitate toward her as an advocate.
1. Bentonville Schools/Gateway will secure funding to hire/pay individuals to work in an afterschool capacity with our TAGG group students at Gateway. In addition, Gateway will work to add diversity among the faculty.
2. Bentonville Schools/Gateway will establish relationships with TAGG students by collaborating with community members/professionals of a diverse background to secure a mentor/advocate for our afterschool students.
3. Bentonville Schools/Gateway will be able to improve GPA’s of out TAGG students through after-school remediation, enhanced study skills, problem solving, and advocacy.
4. Bentonville Schools/Gateway will improve the graduation rate of our TAGG students from current levels.
5. Bentonville Schools/Gateway will work towards a pluralistic environment through education, appreciating cultural differences, respecting and encouraging diversity, and promoting a spirit of acceptance for all who walk through the doors.