Cultural survey will evaluate school board’s level of cultural acceptance

Published 7:46 am Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Over the coming week and beyond, members of the Austin School Board will take a survey that will evaluate their level of cultural acceptance and cultural competency.

The method being used is the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a 50 question inventory that can be taken online or in paper form.  Austin school district integration coordinator Kristi Beckman said the purpose of the inventory is to show an individual how he or she has learned through their experiences and how those experience have shaped their view of the world. She also said the inventory will provide a baseline of data to asses district staff development on cultural competency.

The inventory is part of the school district’s integration programing, which is in the fourth year of its implementation. Last year, all the school district administrative staff and all of the Ellis Middle School teaching staff took the inventory survey. The entire school district teaching staff will take the survey later this year.

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“Just like we have data on how our students are progressing in their academic and their state-wide exams, this gives accountability in professional development so we know if the steps we are taking for staff development are effective or not,” said Beckman.

A preview of the inventory was presented to the school board yesterday by Beckman and English Language Learner coordinator Lori Henry. They will both oversee the inventory and present a compiled report of the school board’s combined scores on cultural competency. They will also go over individual results with a board member if it is requested by the member.

“There are two reasons why the IDI is needed. One, because we need all our students to be prepared not just academically, but also culturally as well. The other reason is the Adequate Yearly Progress reports shows that we have an achievement gap based on race,” Beckman said.

Henry also commented on the need for the school district to adjust to the cultural needs of its students.

“For some reason, the instruction as we are giving it now is not meeting the needs of all our students. So, we need to make the shifts that are necessary in order to do a better job with our students and provide them with a more appropriate education. We think part of the answer to this is going in our own personal cultural competence and adjusting our instruction so that it is culturally responsive,” Henry said.