Integration is rooted in the history of Westwood and the Boston area. Over time, the Westwood community has used different mechanisms to achieve integration with a focus on the idea that we can reduce prejudice by having direct, interpersonal contact with people from different groups.


In 1968, Westwood’s School Committee joined a ground-breaking program to partner with Black families in Boston to address the crisis of racial segregation in the city schools. The WPS has been part of the METCO program ever since, enrolling Boston students to broaden educational opportunities for both Boston-residents students and for the children who live in Westwood. Today, racial segregation takes different forms, but the importance of bringing diverse children together is greater than ever.


Our Student Body

The population of Westwood has changed significantly over the last 20 years. In 2000, Westwood’s student body was almost 100% white. Today, white students make up about 75% of the district, as families of color have moved into Westwood. The proportion of Black students has grown by about 50% in those twenty years, while that of Hispanic and Asian students has grown by ten times. (Nearly five percent of students enrolled in WPS today identify as more than race, an option that wasn’t available in 2000.) You can see this diversity in the charts below.


This diversity is not only a source of inspiration and deeper learning—it also reflects the world around us. Our schools have a responsibility to prepare students to interact with people from many backgrounds and cultures, and to ensure that children feel respected and valued for who they are. 


Our Staff


One important tool for cultivating a sense of belonging and to prepare students to interact with people from diverse backgrounds is to assemble a faculty and staff that share the diversity of the student body. 


In Westwood, the adults who work in our schools right now look more like the Westwood of 2000 than today’s multicultural students. Compare the chart below, showing the racial backgrounds of Westwood Public Schools’ staff, with those of the student body above.  


As a result, many WPS students are unlikely to meet a teacher or administrator from their own culture or who looks like they do. Many other students may complete their education without the opportunity to learn from a teacher whose race or culture is different from their own. 


Educational research suggests that all students benefit from the opportunity to learn from a more diverse faculty. To address these trends and gaps, the Westwood Public Schools is pursuing a multi-year strategy to a) diversify the faculty and staff, and b) ensure that faculty and staff are highly-skilled and deliver a challenging, culturally relevant curriculum. 


For the last several years, the District has provided the opportunity for three cohorts of district leaders, principals, and other hiring leads to participate with other Massachusetts school districts in a year-long program sponsored by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) focused on strategies for recruiting, hiring, and retaining a talented and diverse staff. The fact that this work spans multiple districts is an important part of the story in Massachusetts. Simply put, the candidate pipeline for educators does not reflect the diversity of students in MA. 


For this reason, in the WPS, we are approaching our efforts to diversify staff from a number of angles, including efforts to create our own pipeline. Some of our ongoing work includes:


  • Creating revised and consistent job descriptions and interview questions
  • Providing anti-bias training for hiring leads and hiring committees
  • Establishing partnerships with regional graduate institutions, HBCUs, and WPS alumni to increase our educator candidate pipeline
  • Creating internship opportunities for our juniors, seniors, and alumni in our summer and extended learning programming that boost the candidate pipeline
  • Providing affinity groups to address issues of interest and concern to staff of color in order to retain talented educators
  • Joining organizations, such as the Massachusetts Partnership for Diversity, a recruiting consortium of Massachusetts public school districts whose mission is to locate outstanding candidates of color for teaching, administrative, and support roles


Finally, the District has identified the need for data systems to measure and track progress toward goals over time and to assess the effectiveness of our work. 

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