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MAEC’s Antiracist System Audit of Montgomery County Public Schools

MCPS Antiracist System Audit image

MAEC conducted an Antiracist Audit of Montgomery County Public Schools (MD) policies, practices, and programs, resulting in the participation of 130,000+ MCPS community members, development of 26 total observations, and identification of 23 recommendations for the district, including cross-domain recommendations. Access the full report.


MAEC, Inc. announced the completion of its Antiracist System Audit of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Maryland in November 2022. The audit is a national model for how to take a holistic perspective of a school system while focusing the data collections on the experiences of all school community members. Through the Antiracist System Audit, MAEC investigated how students, educators, staff, families, and community partners experience school policies and practices aligned with social identities and positions within the school system. The Antiracist System Audit builds on MAEC’s 30+ year track record as a champion of social justice and civil rights through collaboration, innovation, and equity. 

MAEC evaluated MCPS’s efforts toward achieving racial equity across the district, examining six domains: (1) school culture, (2) workforce diversity, (3) work conditions, (4) Pre-K—12 curriculum, (5) community relations and engagement, and (6) equity of access. “Research shows that all six of these areas are interconnected and have an impact on teaching and learning for both staff and students,” explained Stephanie Sheron, Chief of the MCPS Office of Strategic Initiatives. By examining systemic policies, programs, and practices across domains, MAEC identified root causes for why outcomes and experiences for MCPS students differ and fall along race.  

During the two-year audit, MAEC conducted five data collections, gathering quantitative and qualitative data. This included: 

  1. A review of 17 documents identified by MCPS, including their Strategic Plan, professional growth systems, and previous studies 
  2. The administration of MAEC’s Equity Audit Tool, a self-assessment tool completed by school Instruction Leadership Teams and Central Office Teams 
  3. Surveys for students, families, and staff members 
  4. Facilitation of community conversations with the NAACP Parents Council, Latino Student Achievement Action Group, and Chinese American Parent Association of Montgomery County 
  5. Focus groups with students, families, and staff 

The audit was facilitated by a partnership between MAEC, the MCPS Strategic Initiatives Office, and a 43-member Steering Committee. The Steering Committee met monthly to provide guidance on key aspects of the audit, including communications with the public, questions asked on the surveys and in focus groups, and recruitment of community members for data collections. MAEC’s co-constructed approach puts community leaders in the driver’s seat, while supporting them to create solutions that are sustainable, contextualized, and meet the needs of the community. 

In total, 130,112 MCPS students, family members, and staff contributed to various data collections for this audit. This level of engagement reflects the community and district’s shared urgency to address racism in Montgomery County Public Schools. 

By triangulating data, MAEC identified 26 observations that address how students, families, and staff are affected by MCPS systems, practices, and policies through the lens of racial equity. Three themes emerged: 

  1. MCPS already follows many identified best practices and has comprehensive policies to work toward racial equity. 
  2. MCPS policies and practices are not always implemented with fidelity. 
  3. Across MCPS, experiences of community members vary depending on their race/ethnicity. 

“The report confirms our initial hypothesis…[that] students, families, and staff of color…have a less satisfactory experience with MCPS than other members of the community,” said MCPS Superintendent, Dr. Monifa McKnight. “We need to change as the people in the system and we have to change the system so that it works for the needs of all of our students.”  

Drawing on MAEC’s decades of leadership and research on best practices, the report included 23 recommendations and a framework of cross-domain recommendations to create an antiracist district that serves all students and community members. MAEC Senior Education Equity Specialist, Jenny Portillo, emphasized that many of the recommendations were informed directly by MCPS community members: “They’re things we heard in surveys, in focus groups, so these are things that people are calling for.” The recommendations integrated current MCPS initiatives to suggest a holistic response rather than identifying “add-ons” to the system. 

MAEC is grateful to the MCPS community for their trust in MAEC to elevate issues that are important for students, families, and staff and to recommend long-term solutions that advance equity in education. “We were the stewards of the 130,000 people who trusted us to tell their story throughout the audit,” shared Kasia Razynska, MAEC Director of Evaluation & Continuous Improvement and MCPS Project Lead. MAEC looks forward to seeing meaningful changes that lead to measurable outcomes for student learning and well-being.  

Learn more about why we do equity audits, and view our resources for promoting equity in schools and districts. To request MAEC’s services, contact us here. 


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