Blue state school district shelled out thousands to create ‘equity dashboard’ to track students by race

(Daily Caller News Foundation) – A Pennsylvania school district that has pushed diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives spent thousands of dollars to create an “equity dashboard”…

(Daily Caller News Foundation) – A Pennsylvania school district that has pushed diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives spent thousands of dollars to create an “equity dashboard” that broke down different categories of students by race, according to documents obtained through a public records request by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

In June 2020, Pennsbury School District in Pennsylvania approved a $95,000 contract with Qualtrics, a data analytics company, to acquire software that the school district used to create an “equity dashboard,” tracking students’ achievements and outcomes by race, according to documents obtained by the DCNF. For several years, the district has been prioritizing DEI initiatives in an effort to create an education system based on equity.

For instance, in July 2020, the district appointed its first director of “Equity, Diversity and Education” and tasked the school system’s Equity Office with conducting “a comprehensive equity audit” to address gaps in its education system, the report states. Parents criticized the school district’s DEI strategy in 2021, arguing that the plan was implementing Critical Race Theory into the classroom, according to the Bucks County Courier Times.

Ahead of appointing its first director of “Equity, Diversity and Education,” Pennsbury School District purchased the Qualtrics software which provided the school system with the “equity dashboard,” documents show.

The “equity dashboard” notes that a “discipline gap” is when there are “patterns of differences in behavioral outcomes and types of disciplinary responses across demographic groups,” an archived version of the dashboard shows. Of K-12 students suspended each year from 2016 to 2020, about 60% were white and less than 20%, with the exception of two years, were black students, the dashboard shows.

Under another tab, the “equity dashboard” states that an “opportunity gap” is when there are “patterns of differences in access to educational programs, resources and support across demographic groups.” Of K-12 students in advanced classes from 2015 to 2021, nearly 80% were white while less than 10% were black or Hispanic.

“The District contracted with Qualtrics on June 23, 2020, as a survey tool to get parent feedback during the pandemic to assist with decision-making for reopening schools,” Jennifer Neill, supervisor of public relations for Pennsbury School District, told the DCNF. “After the purchase as a survey tool, the district began to explore the use of Qualtrics as a data management tool to house data, starting with developing an equity dashboard to track our equity outcomes. The district found the product very difficult to work with, and using it for data housing, as well as the equity dashboard, was never fully utilized.

“The district ended our contract with Qualtrics in favor of the Survey Money survey platform (at significant cost savings) effective July 1, 2023,” Neill told the DCNF. “As a result, Qualtrics has removed our access to anything they hosted.”

While it’s not clear how the district used the dashboard, Pennsbury pushed several DEI initiatives following the purchase of the software.

In April 2021, the district released an “educational equity audit report” that detailed its vision to make equity the “foundation of all decision-making.”

The district’s report notes that as a part of its equity plan, the school system aims to maintain a diverse staff to teach a “culturally relevant” curriculum in an effort to “reduce achievement, discipline and opportunity gaps.”

The district’s Equity Leadership team works to make sure that school events and activities are representative of “marginalized groups,” the report shows. Under the district’s equity plan, the system aims to train all employees in “cultural proficiency, cultural responsiveness, implicit bias, explicit bias, anti-racism, diversity and inclusive practices.”

At Pennsbury School District’s latest school board meeting on Aug. 17, some parents complained during the public comment period that the school district’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have not produced results, according to a recording of the meeting.

“It has been demonstrated, and I think it will be demonstrated tonight, over and over again that the data that has been presented surrounding the ‘equity program’ has often been invalid, inaccurate, misinterpreted and has failed to show any significant success,” one parent said at the school board meeting. “It is time to purge the district of this equity ideology and let the teachers get back to the job of teaching.”