As part of a city-wide plan to address diversity issues in New York City schools, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) commissioned WXY to develop an engagement process and to facilitate the creation of a plan for more integrated and inclusive middle schools in Brooklyn’s District 15 (D15). D15 schools were among the most socio-economically and racially segregated in the city. Initial data collected after the plan’s implementation indicate positive results so far.
WXY tailored an extensive public process to ensure all workshops were inclusive and accessible by providing multiple translators, MTA passes, food and childcare. Over five months, more than 500 people participated in four public workshops and 80 stakeholder meetings; with a range of attendees that included council members, community leaders and public housing residents.
The complexity of school diversity issues—such as student travel patterns and the impacts of admission policies on middle school demographics—required a sensitive and thoughtful approach to data collection and analysis, made legible through carefully designed booklets and a website utilizing accessible language, graphics and animations.
The plan was implemented in the fall of 2019 and the results demonstrate early signs of success. Preliminary data provided by DOE was analyzed by WXY to evaluate the impacts of the new policy on admissions demographics. The data exhibited a positive shift in demographics in most schools: while previously, less than 40% of middle schools fell within the target range for low-income students, now more than 80% of schools fall within the target range—evidence that more priority-status, low-income students were admitted to all of District 15 middle schools last fall. The overall middle school enrollment numbers in the District remained stable after these changes were made.
The outcome in its early stages yet reflects a strong step towards integration and social equity for the students and towards an effective model for change for the New York City school system at large.
Lawrence M. Orton Award, APA NY Metro Chapter Awards