College creates 'equity report card' to grade departments

Making equity the "highest priority in all assessment, planning, and evaluation" can earn a department an "exemplar" rating, while a "race- and culture-blind" department would receive an "unsatisfactory" score.

Austin Community College recently developed an “Equity Report Card” for individual departments to self-assess how inclusive they are.

Austin Community College recently developed an “Equity Report Card” for individual departments to self-assess how inclusive they are.

The report card, created by the school’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, provides faculty and staff with an extensive grading rubric, breaking down possible grades into the categories of “exemplar,” “highly proficient,” “progressing,” “insufficient,” and “unsatisfactory,” with corresponding descriptions for each category.

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In order for a department to meet “exemplar” equity standards, for instance, it should, among other things, have “culturally conscious leaders” who “assume responsibility for disparities and fully implement equity design principles,” while ensuring that “inclusive language is evident throughout all policies.”

An “unsatisfactory” department, on the other hand, is described as being “race- and culture-blind,” showing a “refusal to examine the impact of dominant culture norms on institutional outcomes and practices.”

Additionally, each possible grading category contains a substantial list of “criteria” to be met, with the “exemplar” grade stressing the allocation of “funding for anti-racist and anti-bias training,” while requiring departments to “centralize equity as a core value and highest priority in all assessment, planning, and evaluation.”

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“Exemplar” departments are also expected to “ensure course evaluations include equity and inclusion components to support course redesign” and “require interactive, face-to-face training for all deans and department chairs” on “culturally responsive teaching.”

The report card was launched in response to “a number of student groups” who are “being underserved and/or are experiencing feelings of isolation or exclusion because of the institution’s climate and inability to engage marginalized students on campus or in the classroom.”

“Achieving equity is an ethical issue and a moral imperative that requires the examination and transformation of hearts, minds, and conscious and unconscious beliefs that impact decisions about policies, practices, and resource allocations,” the report card adds.

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While it is unclear who precisely will be required to fill out the equity report card, it is described as an “assessment, accountability, and communication tool to support leaders, units, offices, and divisions sustain focus on collectively transforming the institution to improve enrollment, inclusion, persistence, and completion rates for historically underserved student groups and their communities.”

"Austin Community College is committed to ensuring a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone,” ACC Executive Vice President of Campus Operations and Public Affairs Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm told Campus Reform.

“The Office of Equity & Inclusion was created to help guide a thoughtful and reflective look at the college's internal processes and procedures in an effort to improve outcomes for all students,” she added, saying, “it is ACC's mission to not only provide affordable access to higher education but to ensure the success of all its students while providing a well-educated, skilled workforce for Central Texas."

Follow the authors of this article on Twitter: @celinedryan and @AGockowski