At the outset of the 2020 school year, Noble set a bold and ambitious goal of becoming a more antiracist organization. Since then, Noble announced our anti-racism commitment (ARC), we engaged thousands of families in surveys and feedback to guide a reexamination of policies and practice. Since February, grounded in that feedback from parents, students, and alumni, ARC design teams have been meeting to guide the way forward on Noble policy and practice as it relates to our student code of conduct, uniform, promotion and graduation requirements, curriculum design and more. Those design teams then shared draft proposals with groups of Noble stakeholders for intensive feedback – hundreds of Noble family members, staff, students, and alumni engaged in these refine team spaces. This post is part of a series of updates on that work in progress.
Aidé Acosta and Estée Kelly led the academic operations design team which was tasked with re-examining the promotion and graduation requirements at Noble through an antiracist lens.
Aidé is the Chief College Officer at Noble where she oversees all college access programming and alumni and career supports. Estée is the Chief Schools Officer wherein she manages and coaches six Noble principals.
We sat down with both Aidé and Estée to discuss this ARC design and refine work:
Q. Can you share a bit about what you were charged with during this ARC process?
A. The Academics Operations Design Team (AODT) was charged with re-examining our promotion and graduation policy by centering the following two questions: (1) What does an antiracist promotion/graduation policy look like at Noble? and; (2) How do students within Noble move along a four-year path that effectively prepares them for college success and ensures they are on the path to lead choice-filled lives?
Q. Can you describe the ARC work you’ve been engaging in this year? When did it start?
A. As the AODT, we built a committee in early spring and started meeting in April. Since April, we came together six times as a full committee and six times as a subcommittee to collect and analyze input and feedback. The AODT is made up of 16 staff members with an average of nine years working at Noble and represents 9 of our 18 campuses and NST. The group includes a variety of positions, with the bulk of the experience being deans of college and deans of students. This team makeup allows us to ensure that our proposals prioritize our students’ daily experience and their path to and through college.
Chief College Officer
Chief Schools Officer
Our collective ARC intervention has been to consider how and what parts of our current promotion/graduation policy have led to inequitable outcomes and reimagine a policy that centers our students. In consideration of community input, Noble’s promotion/graduation policy must be one that ensures our students graduate from Noble with the skills needed to achieve their greatest aspirations in life.
Q. How did you generate your original proposals, where did you seek feedback?
A. We generated our original proposal by analyzing trends in student, family, and alumni feedback. Based on that feedback, we researched graduation policies throughout our city, state, and country. Centering student, family, and alum voices, along with our research, we set out a draft proposal that was then presented to refine groups: DEI Steering Committee, Staff, Parents, Alumni, and Students, as well as Principals.
Q. Can you talk about one thing that shifted in your draft proposal as a result of that community feedback?
A. Our initial draft proposed that academics was the only criteria for graduation at Noble. What we learned unequivocally from stakeholders is that that was not enough. All groups felt strongly that Community Service remained as a graduation requirement that anchors who we are at Noble. We also heard consistent feedback about attendance. We will now analyze and make adjustments based on all the input we received.
We also proposed a graduation policy that allows for flexibility and choice for students, which would begin during SY26. For now, we are focusing on moving forward with a policy for SY22. What we heard unequivocally is the desire to minimize change for SY22 amidst big changes simultaneously happening at Noble.
Q. What else do you want people to know about the ARC design and refine process you’ve engaged in thus far this year?
A. Our approach strives to dismantle an approach that assumes that only we know best, and thus rooted in white supremacy and patriarchy, to one that centers in the brilliance of our people and thus grounded in an antiracist approach.
Q. Why do you think this ARC work is so important?
A. It has the potential to change lives positively as we reimagine an approach that centers our anti-racism commitment. Our approach is centered on student perspectives and is grounded in a college-prep education, exposure to careers, and the knowledge and skills necessary to lead successful, choice-filled lives will advance the creation of positive multi-generational change.