Equitable decision-making in schools strives to achieve the best possible outcome for all. District leaders who prioritize equity recognize that different circumstances characterize every school and classroom and allocate the specific resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. A focus on equity is a focus on ensuring that all students have the support they need to be successful in school. Equity-minded educators and administrators are increasingly mindful of their responsibility to staff schools to meet the needs of students and to ensure the equitable distribution of resources across their districts. This equity-based mindset poses challenges to their organizations: how do they best determine how to reallocate staff and resources?
To reallocate resources more equitably, administrators need data. District decision-makers must view the big picture to allocate resources where they are most needed. A school alert system that contributes meaningful data to this big picture facilitates equitable decision-making. When a superintendent or administrator sees a need for more resources or support, they can direct them to a specific school, grade level, or classroom. As a result, not only students but also staff receive the support they need, which helps prevent teachers from becoming overwhelmed and burning out. Good data can be key to enabling a district to see where its needs are and the starting point for addressing them.
How Can School Leaders Engage in Equitable Decision-Making?
A 2022 Survey from Education Week, reported rising rates of student misbehavior by 73% from suburban administrators, 69% from urban administrators, and 61% from administrators in rural areas or small towns. Yet district policy-making processes are not always well suited to responding directly to these increasing needs. Often, the people most directly affected by the ongoing lack of resources do not have input into school- or district-wide decisions. Also, these decisions often take time: board meeting proposals and approvals can expand over months’ worth of meetings.
Unfortunately, even when districts have information that indicates a need for more resources or support in one area, these needs are not always addressed. Some districts may direct resources toward other improvements that, while aiming for and sometimes resulting in positive effects, overall don’t address inequities. In addition, district-wide policy decisions are often made in response to a state or national mandate, irrespective of schools’ individual needs. Ideally, however, data should drive decision-making processes at the district level so that administrators can respond to the specific needs of the teachers, staff, and students they serve.
Equitable distribution of resources responds to needs on the ground, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach to classroom management. Impact Tulsa, an Oklahoma organization that seeks to ensure equitable access to education, defines equity as “the provision of personalized resources needed for all individuals to reach common goals. In other words, the goals and expectations are the same for all students, but the support needed to achieve those goals depends on the students’ needs.”
The key to discovering what these needs are, and how they are distributed across a school district, is data. The National School Board Association (NSBA) reports that careful gathering and analysis of data can improve equity in schools. According to the NSBA, “Districts large and small are looking for ways to address long-standing and deeply embedded issues around race and equity. Solid data gathering and analysis, as well as ongoing feedback from staff, students, and community members, are critical in reversing practices that have been generations in the making.” For districts seeking to address students’ specific needs, a crucial first step is to see and understand exactly where, and with what frequency, incidents are occurring. This data can then inform conversations among school leaders, teachers, and staff about how best to address these needs.
How Data Contributes to Equitable Decision Making
An effective school alert system that captures data regarding disciplinary incidents, student elopement, medical emergencies, and other events at school allows districts to aggregate their data and make more informed decisions about where to allocate resources. Pinpointing where needs are most pronounced allows districts to address those needs directly. A school alert system that incorporates a wireless panic button system facilitates this process. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, it is important that “disruptive incidents be recorded even when they do not cross the threshold for state-mandated reporting or legal violations. This information can be used to identify trends and link incidents to grade level, location, time of year, or other potentially useful factors.” When a teacher can push a button that alerts school staff about an ongoing incident, while also ensuring that the details of that incident are recorded, they are contributing to the data set that can improve equitable treatment of students in their school. As a result, decision-makers can allocate medical resources and staff where they are most needed, and concentrate security planning efforts on the schools and classrooms with the most urgent needs.
CENTEGIX’s CrisisAlert system facilitates the collection and use of this kind of important data. The system incorporates a wearable wireless panic button system so that teachers and staff can call for assistance instantly, from any location on campus. These alerts are then recorded as data that is easily accessible to school decision-makers on their CrisisAlert dashboard. The dashboard provides school leaders with an instant snapshot of incidents of all kinds. By viewing the dashboard, a school administrator can see which teachers, schools, and specific locations are involved in incidents of all kinds. It is easy for educators to see where alerts are most often being triggered, and this in turn can direct attention and resources to those locations. When the data shows the number and type of alerts that occur, a superintendent can easily see where an additional school nurse or school resource officer is needed, or move staff so that a teacher with specific medical knowledge can be present in a specific classroom.
By using the data captured by the CENTEGIX CrisisAlert system, districts can make equity-based decisions about where to allocate resources. For example, within one district, two schools may be home to students with severe peanut allergies, while the remaining schools are not. The CrisisAlert system tracks data from teachers’ wireless panic button systems in response to students’ experiencing allergic reactions. The resulting data underlines the need for increased nursing or medical resources at two particular schools. District leaders can then direct those resources to the schools where they are most needed. The result is increased safety and support for teachers and students. This is equity in action.
A school alert system of this kind eliminates the long and unwieldy process that districts typically engage in when allocating resources. To retrieve the same data that the CrisisAlert system generates instantly, administrators would traditionally be obligated to request a report from their IT specialists, then wait for it to move to the front of the queue. This process inevitably slows down progress toward equitable distribution of resources.
The National Center for Education Statistics recommends that when districts are searching for database systems, they choose one that can produce all reports necessary to identify problem areas. The CrisisAlert school alert system facilitates the gathering of exactly this kind of data so that school leaders can make well-informed and equitable decisions.
CENTEGIX is the leader in incident response solutions. Our CrisisAlert platform is the fastest and easiest way for staff to call for help in an emergency, from the everyday to the extreme. CENTEGIX creates safer spaces by innovating technology to empower and protect people, and leaders nationwide trust our safety solutions to provide peace of mind. To learn more about how CENTEGIX can help you support your teachers and staff, visit www.centegix.com.