Simi Valley Unified School District
Simi Valley, California
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Simi Valley Student
“Thank you for talking to me about the AP test. Without that, I wouldn’t have decided to take it, and that credit is saving me and my four year plan right now!”

Our Reason for Tackling AP/IB Equity Work

We knew that the student participation in our AP/IB classes at Royal High School and Simi Valley High School did not reflect the diversity of our student body, which meant we were not serving students who should be served. We needed to change what we did and how we did it, and we knew from experience that making data-driven decisions to implement change works. We were ready for a large-scale cultural shift and knew that bringing in experts to guide us would best help to create the foundational shifts needed in our organization.

The Most Inspiring Aspect of the Work

Through the Student Insight Cards, our staff was able to get to know their students as unique individuals, with goals and plans that many of our staff did not know about before. This fostered a deeper respect and empathy between our staff and students. Suddenly, that boy sitting in the back of the room all year was the kid who dreamed of becoming a pilot. That girl who struggled with attendance and grades for several months the year before was enduring great family trauma at home because of a critically ill parent, and yet she still harbored hopes of becoming a doctor. These insights into the lives of our students were brought to awareness as EOS helped us to uncover them. They re-energized our teachers and administrators to want to help these students achieve their dreams.

Our recruitment rallies at Royal High School are powerful examples of our staff taking up the cause for their students’ future achievement. Every student identified through our EOS work as having the potential to achieve in our AP and IB classes was invited to lunchtime pizza rallies. Once there, our staff explained that they were special and had been identified by their teachers as having the ability to succeed in an AP or IB class. Student leaders shared their
class experiences, and our AP and IB teachers talked about what happens in class and what help would be made available for them. They would not be alone on their journey to high achievement. Three rallies were held and each was inspirational and motivating. We signed up most of our students in the rallies for AP and IB classes.

Who Benefits Most

Our teachers have grown as educators because they’ve been connected with their students on a more personal level than before. By knowing that they are supported by their school and district to reach all students, learning of the amazing potential their students demonstrated through their Student Insight Cards and follow up meetings and activities, our teachers became impassioned. Our teachers are looking for more creative ways to teach their students. They are seeking new connections and “ah-ha” moments, for their students, because they know these young people sitting in front of them better.

Advice

This is the most worthy of endeavors. It is the reason we become educators, to help children. EOS is highly skilled at guiding each client through a very complex process, and never once did we feel like we were all alone in the process.

Staff buy-in is an important factor, and while it may not happen at the start, teachers become champions as they see that they can have success in guiding a greater number of deserving students through rigorous coursework. The buy-in from teachers was sincere. EOS was responsive and generous in answering our questions and concerns from individual teachers as needed. Principals reinforced the message that in our schools, every child can achieve and our job is to see that happen. We see ourselves as an equal opportunity district due to the work that we have, and continue to do, with EOS.

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