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Equity Audit

Business person standing over table writing on printed reports

In the spring of 2022, Sycamore Community School District 427 engaged two consultants to complete an Equity Audit for our school district. A summary of results and the full report are found on this page.

We want to give credit to the two consultants, Dr. Shamaine Bertrand and Dr. April Mustian, for the completion of the audit and the final report presented to our school district. In addition to the Equity Audit, Dr. Bertrand and Dr. Mustian have provided additional support and guidance to the district IDEA committee. Our work could not have been done without them and their expertise.

The summary of the recent Equity Audit conducted found on this webpage includes highlights taken directly from the final report. This webpage is not intended to replace the final report; rather, this summary is meant to provide a brief overview of the final report. The final report is available for download in its entirety.

2022 Equity Audit Summary and Highlights

The IDEA committee and the school district wish to recognize the involvement of all of the participants who contributed to the completion of the Equity Audit itself. Without the valuable input from the participants, we would not have the report.

Finally, we want to identify the former and current (denoted with an ‘*’) members of the IDEA Committee (current and former) who have been part of this work since the inception of the committee in the spring of 2021.

Kathy Countryman
Sarah Frankiewicz*
Brian Kowalski*
Dorothy Lewis

Miriam Ojaghi*
Alexis Reaves
Nick Reineck*
Claribel Robles*

Amy Walker
Kris Webster
Kreg Wesley
Steve Wilder*

The purpose of the Equity Audit was to identify strengths and areas of growth for our schools and the school district as a whole. As a result, “this Equity Audit summarizes current performance and identifies areas of growth pertaining to educational equity. The findings of the Sycamore Equity Audit outline specific goals and recommended actions based on the data reviewed.”  (p.2)


Student Demographics

FY22 Teacher Demographics — Race

FY22 adminstrator Demographics — Race

Survey Results

The consultants used multiple surveys to gather numerical data from our participants. Surveys were completed by the district IDEA committee, building level groups, and focus groups. A summary of the survey results can be found below.

District IDEA Committee Survey Results

The district level survey was completed by the district IDEA committee on a scale of 0 to 3.

0 = Latent
1 = Emergent
2 = Established
3 = Advanced

Overall, the average rating on the district level survey was a 1.45. This means that, overall, policies and practices are largely established but not all may be in alignment across schools and documentation is evidence with some but not all indicators related to equity.

The survey participants were also invited to include open-ended responses which can be found in the final Equity Audit report.

Domain Rating
1. Vision, Strategy, and Culture 1
2. Focus on Equity 2
3. Organizational Clarity and Collaboration 1
4. Focus on Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning 1
5. Student Readiness to Learn 1
6. Talent 1
7. Stakeholder Engagement and Communications 2
8. Finance  2
9. Data 1
10. School Management 2
11. Central Services and Operations 2


Building Level Survey Results

The building level survey was completed by school-based groups composed of at least one of the following participants: administrator, teacher, support staff, other school professional, caregiver, and/or other community member/stakeholder. One survey was completed for each school. The ratings used were the same as the district level survey:

0 = Latent
1 = Emergent
2 = Established
3 = Advanced

A total of 22 individuals participated in completing the 7 surveys. Overall, the average rating on the building level survey was a 1.74, which means that the buildings, as a whole, are performing at the “Established” level of equity. This means that there are explicit systems in place, accompanied by documentation, that center equity.

Like the district level survey, the building level survey participants were also invited to include open-ended responses which can be found in the final Equity Audit report.

School-Level Equity Self-Assessment Means

Focus Group Results

At the request of the IDEA Committee, the consultants also held meetings with focus groups after the surveys were completed. Focus groups included a total of 20 teachers, staff, parents, and caregivers. Parents and Caregivers participated in focus groups independently from teachers and staff members.

Parents and caregivers identified several challenges within the district. Those included:

  • The lack of racially diverse teachers/staff within the district,
  • Communication between the district and caregivers/families,
  • Having inclusive curricula, and
  • Making sure that teachers, administrators, and staff  have professional development focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion, and that there is an accountability system in place for those in the district that do not adhere to attending professional development.

The survey responses from teachers and staff participants included:

  • A need to hire teachers and staff of color,
  • They do not feel teachers and staff are prepared to address equity, diversity, and inclusion within the district, and
  • All teacher/staff participants shared the need for professional development and resources that are centered around equity, diversity, and inclusion.

School Climate Data: The 5Essentials Survey

In 2013, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) required that schools complete a school climate survey at least every two years. Since that time, ISBE has partnered with the University of Chicago to make the 5Essentials survey available to schools in Illinois. However, schools have the option to utilize other school climate surveys. Since this requirement was implemented, Sycamore CUSD #427 has used the 5Essentials survey. The most recent 5Essentials survey results can be viewed under the “School Environment” link on the school report card for each of our seven schools. The results of the most recent 5Essentials survey are also included in the Equity Audit Report.

Student Discipline Data

As part of the equity audit, the consultants reviewed student discipline data from the 2021-2022 school year. Student discipline data was collected from all schools, but was only reported for schools where 10 or more students were suspended or expelled, and student data was reported across more than one race category. Only Sycamore Middle School and Sycamore High School met those criteria.

“[The consultants] utilized the Risk Ratio tool created by the Wisconsin RtI Center and Wisconsin PBIS Network to calculate the risk of students of color as compared to White students for behavioral adversity. A risk ratio greater than 1.0 indicates that students of that race are at higher risk of behavioral adversity.” (p. 38)

2021-2022 Sycamore Middle School Discipline Data — Risk Ratio for Suspension

2021-2022 Sycamore High School Discipline Data — Risk Ratio for Suspension

Overall Trends

The conclusion of the Equity Audit report focuses on patterns and recommendations. The report identifies strengths and opportunities for growth in the following areas.


  • Existence and influence of the district’s Strategic Design
  • Outreach to families from schools
  • School Culture/Environment is a strength across the district
  • There has been an Increase in inclusive curriculum materials in some pockets across the district.

Opportunities for Growth

  • Additional clarity in equity-related practices in district and school policies, ensuring alignment with the district’s Strategic Design
  • Community-wide communication regarding equity issues, especially from the district level
  • Additional efforts to engage the community, including two-way communication
  • Improve the use of data to drive decisions
  • Widespread access to inclusive curriculum materials
  • Quality Professional Development
  • Increase the number of staff from diverse backgrounds


The consultants ended the equity audit report with a section devoted to recommendations for further action. The consultants noted the difficulty in attempting to address the opportunities for growth in every area at once, or in a short period of time. Therefore, they shared recommendations for further consideration and prioritization. The recommendations can be viewed in their entirety in the final Equity Audit report.

Full Report Downloads