BPS Equity Need Assessment Letter - July 2023

Update on Burlington Public Schools Equity Needs Assessment 

July 18, 2023
Provided by Laurie Casna J.D. 

The Burlington Public School Community has been exceptionally forthcoming and responsive in providing extensive documents, responses to surveys and opportunity for direct dialogue to inform the needs assessment process. 

Below is an overview of the purpose and scope of the assessment. 


An Equity Needs Assessment process offers districts a way to develop a more concrete understanding of what it means to practice equity and reflect on whether current school policies, procedures, and practices are equitable, supportive of a diverse learning environment and inclusive. This report shares the results of a holistic equity needs assessment that focuses on economically disadvantaged students, students of color, students with disabilities and linguistically diverse populations. Given the broad focus of the Equity Needs Assessment, specific recommendations will address further work to be done in analyzing the outcomes and experiences of individual groups. 

The purpose of this report is a Needs Assessment based on a review of data collected from multiple sources to identify recommendations for moving towards more equitable and inclusive practices. This Assessment is not an investigation of past events. It is important to recognize and make space for the work that needs to be done around healing as a school community from highly publicized events that have transpired in the recent months and within the past year related to equity and diversity. This assessment does not investigate or draw specific conclusions about such events. It does encompass recommendations to build structures and systems to heal from the impact and mitigate the likelihood of recurrence. 

This Needs Assessment involved two components; first a look at district data and documents. While some patterns and themes emerged from a review of this information resulting in recommendations, the data and documents did not reveal a full picture of the feelings and daily experiences of those in the district, in the context of diversity, equity and inclusion. The second component of the Needs Assessment consisted of focus groups, interviews and survey data collected and shared with the authors of this report. Focus groups were held with the English Language Learner Parent Advisory Council (ELPAC) and the Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC). Additional focus groups were held with students at the Marshall Simonds Middle School and Burlington High School. In addition to these groups individual interviews were conducted with members of the Burlington Administrative Team. In addition to focus groups and individual interviews, three surveys made up of questions developed by Panorama Education were sent to Burlington constituents; Burlington Schools Educator and Staff Survey to which 244 responses were submitted; Burlington Parent and Guardian Survey to which 366 responses were submitted to the English version, 9 to the Portuguese version and 0 to the Spanish version and Burlington Student Survey for students in grades 4-12 to which 1,659 responses were submitted. Superintendent Conti also shared his 2023 Leadership Survey Data.

This report aims to assess Burlington’s practices, processes, and procedures with a lens toward equity. Learning for Justice (formally Teaching Tolerance), a resource center funded by the Southern Poverty Law Center, “highly recommends” the equity audit resources available through the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium (MAEC). The following report sections align with criteria for examining equity as informed by the MAEC (2020). 

1. School policy
2. Assessing Community Needs
3. School administration
4. Staff
5. Professional learning
6. Curriculum development

This report also encompasses a section on Student Experience to directly address the experiences, input and recommendations of the student body of the Burlington Public Schools. 

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