The Bronx Academic Response Team: A Mechanism of School Support to Advance Equity

Kris DeFilippis, Fordham University


Segregation and poverty are inextricably intertwined with education in the Bronx public schools, manifesting in stubborn, pervasive, and profound racial disproportionality. This has been attributed to a lack of internal coherence, diminished leadership capacity for continuous improvement, a culture of compliance, and mixed readiness to engage in equity-grounded work. Using the Carnegie Foundation’s Improvement Science approach, the Bronx Academic Response Teams (ART) aimed to support school leaders and staff in using an equity-based inquiry approach to improve student experience. The initiatives were grounded in Critical Race Theory. We implemented two concurrent Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles; one focused on change ideas in six Bronx schools and the other examined the internal processes with the Bronx ART. We identified four key facets to successful organizational, systemic change with a focus on equity: 1) considering the unique context for each school is critical to identify change ideas that work; 2) adherence to the collaborative inquiry process creates urgency and provided psychological safety; 3) willful unlearning is required to change the traditional approach to root cause analysis and problem-solving; and 4) strategic team culture was central to our ability to support schools effectively. Each facet of this approach was essential and interdependent, dramatically increasing efficacy and efficiency when used together. The practices in this research have continued and been significantly scaled, supporting 15 schools in shifting to remote learning during the pandemic and more than 100 schools through Networked Improvement Communities.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Educational administration|Multicultural Education

Recommended Citation

DeFilippis, Kris, "The Bronx Academic Response Team: A Mechanism of School Support to Advance Equity" (2022). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28777194.