School environments must welcome and engage

The Prichard Committee recognizes that schools must foster an environment that welcomes and supports each student and family if all kids are to succeed. They must offer every student access to rigorous assignments, advanced coursework, career pathways, and opportunities to achieve beyond proficiency. They must also ensure that each student’s strengths are recognized and built upon, both across curriculum and by realizing gifts, talents, and learning differences that may require specialized services. Schools must engage students as active participants in their learning, ensuring that they take ownership of their own learning and be offered opportunities to contribute as equal partners in school and district decisions.

Schools must engage families as full collaborators in their children’s learning, drawing on family understanding of each student’s strengths and offering effective opportunities for families to tap into available supports and resources, including welcoming families’ advocates. Schools must also offer the most vulnerable students robust support to allow them to learn and grow. Adequate funding and support for Family Resource and Youth Services Centers is critical to give each school the capacity to address particular student and family needs.

We advocate that schools seek out independent assessments of school climate and culture informed by families, teachers, and student perspectives, giving high priority to addressing concerns that emerge. Evidence that students of different background receive appropriate learning opportunities, disciplinary consequences, or levels of respect must be addressed with frankness and energy.