What is it like to transform a school into a place where all young people feel they belong, they matter, and they can grow as learners?
Lakeridge Elementary, in the Renton School District, has been on just such a journey. In the spring of 2020, while navigating remote learning during school closures, the skilled Lakeridge data team, supported by BELONG Partners facilitators, decided to focus data collection on identifying patterns of racial disproportionality in discipline and identifying ways to develop a truly inclusive school community.
Analyzing Data and Looking for Patterns
A typical data team is made up of members of the school community who hold the big picture of discipline referral and behavior trends for the whole staff. They meet monthly to examine discipline data, identify patterns, and make recommendations for reducing disciplinary problems, and developing an overall safe, inclusive school culture.
With a focus on racial disproportionality in discipline at Lakeridge, the team reviewed and analyzed years of discipline data, and reflected on what stood out. These reflection sessions gave team members a dedicated space and time to review data together and talk through what it would take to meaningfully disrupt discipline disproportionality.
Working Together as a School Community
At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, the data team shared the disproportionality data with the whole staff and led a frank and productive conversation around systemic racism and the school-to-prison pipeline. Using the same format for classroom meetings that Lakeridge students use, adults split into small groups and came up with solutions that were reasonable, related, respectful, and helpful. Later that summer, the Lakeridge data team co-led the whole staff in problem solving. The conversation around disproportionality evolved to include the many ways it shows up in school—not only in discipline, but also in remote learning.
By the start of the 2020-2021 school year, the entire Lakeridge community was committed and ready to implement meaningful, student-centered solutions to resolve disproportionality and institutional racism. For example, the school committed to stop writing discipline referrals for students wearing hoodies and hats. They instituted an intermediate class meeting that centered student questions around the impacts of institutional racism in their own neighborhood. Students took the lead in identifying solutions for their wider community.
Now, a year later in 2022, at the two-year anniversary of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Lakeridge data team continues to lead the way! On top of their commitments to examining inequity and disrupting discipline disproportionality, they are challenging the traditional means of data collection, shifting from a singular focus on discipline referrals to tracking social emotional learning data as well. Using BELONG Partners MTSS Approach for SEL, they are assessing individual student and classroom social-emotional strengths and lagging skills, designing strategies for educator practice, and tailoring solutions for individual students. They’ve even begun inviting students to assess their own SEL skills as well, so that the students’ voices are reflected in the data.
Lakeridge Elementary Assistant Principal, DeeAnn Wells, as well as representatives from CHOOSE180, The Freedom Project WA, and the documentary film Since I Been Down, partnered with us in March of 2022 for a community conversationon disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline.
It is a joy to witness this community’s journey and the hard work they have done, and continue to do, to transform their school for students. Thank you, Lakeridge data team! We are honored to be partners in this important work.
Lakeridge is a BELONG Partners Demonstration School and welcomes guests several times per year to observe class meetings and learn from school students and staff. If you would like to attend Lakeridge or another demonstration school tour, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will let you the upcoming dates and details.
Alan Wong and Roshaé Lowe are Sound Discipline Facilitators