Inside SFS

The SFS Inclusion and Belonging Dashboard

SFS’s mission statement charges us to embrace a diverse community and to respect each member of the community… 

So how do we know how we’re doing?

“The San Francisco School cultivates and celebrates the intellectual, imaginative, and humanitarian promise of each student in a community that practices mutual respect, embraces diversity, and inspires a passion for learning.”
– The San Francisco School Mission Statement
“If it matters in our schools, we measure it.” 
 – Caroline Blackwell, NAIS Vice President, Equity and Justice


Upon arriving at The San Francisco School in 2017, Nancy Nagramada, Assistant Head of School and Head of Middle School, introduced the concept of a Inclusion and Belonging Dashboard, a tool to collect and analyze data focused on students’ sense of belonging at SFS.

“The goal is to identify our successes as well as our gaps through anonymous student data. This data will assess who is thriving in our program and who needs to be served better as we aim to fulfill the SFS mission through each one of our students. The SFS Inclusion and Belonging Dashboard aims to help us identify how equitably we are doing this work across racial, ethnic, socio-economic, gender, sexual identity, and spiritual lines.”

Dashboards are meant to visually represent data assessed by an institution, such as corporations as well as universities, and measure areas in which they want to grow (see snapshot from UC Berkeley). The model has been applied to the high school level but only rarely at the elementary and middle school level.

From UC Berkeley's Inclusion Dashboard, 2012From UC Berkeley's Inclusion Dashboard, 2012

The story of this work for Nancy began during her time at The Athenian School, where she served as an administrator and teacher for 14 years.  Then Dean of Equity and Inclusion Kalyan Balavan (now Head of School of The Dunn School) led a process to establish one of the first Inclusion Dashboards at the middle and high school levels. This was immersive work to both learn about the power of dashboards as well as do a deep dive into the school’s mission.

Since then, Balavan has collaborated with other independent schools to educate others about the potential power of this tool. This includes establishing an annual consortium (hosted at The San Francisco School in 2019) which has grown to over 100 educators from schools across the United States.

As the administrative liaison to the SFS Diversity Committee (DC), Nancy introduced2019 SFS Inclusion Dashboard Consortium2019 SFS Inclusion Dashboard Consortiumthe idea of the Inclusion and Belonging Dashboard. With other committee members Anita Chawla (Rishi ’21) and then DC Chair Fro Rosqueta (Susie ’21, Roel ’17) participating in the 2019 consortium, the concept was embraced. “It was such an exciting process,” Nancy reflected of the early work. “James [Harding, music teacher], Anita, Fro, and I enjoyed the hard work at the consortium, deconstructing our mission and identifying ways we can ‘see’ our mission in the lives of our students.”

With Head of School Steve Morris, the administrative team, and the DC formally began to pursue this work. Director of Admissions and Head of Upper Elementary Stewart Dorsey was a natural partner to lead this effort. He is intimately involved in the recruitment and matriculation of SFS’s diverse student body and is deeply invested in their success.  

This work picked up steam in 2020 through the leadership of DC Co-Chair Ana Zacapa (Diego ’25, Siena ’32). Nancy and Stewart developed a process to design with staff, board of trustees, and student input on the SFS Inclusion and Belonging Dashboard survey. They drafted survey questions that were based in the mission and that would attempt to qualify and quantify students’ experiences with respect to inclusion, belonging, and thriving.

“The students understand why this is important. It was really inspiring as we worked through the questions and gathered their feedback. It was confirmation that we were on the right track with our questions and identifiers, and they had some really helpful feedback on words and terms that would be most meaningful to kids. This was very helpful since this type of survey hasn’t really been done with kids this age.”

Preschool teacher and DC member Angelica Faustino, with her passion for equity and ethnic studies, has been an eager contributor to this effort. “With this information, I am excited that we can co-create a more just and equitable environment for all.”

Sample questionsSample questionsLast year involved a long, careful process of expanding, refining, and narrowing the questions (see sample questions) as well as the identifiers. During the development process last spring, 8th Graders in the Class of 2021 tested some of the questions in a pilot survey. Students read statements and were asked to rate their level of agreement on a scale of 1 - 5. The average response was calculated; for example, statements (and averages in parentheses) included: “I see aspects of my identity in what I learn in school” (3.58); “I see students speak up when they see something wrong” (3.65); “SFS inspires me to continue learning” (4.45); “My peers include me in activities” (4.48); and “I would recommend SFS to another student like me” (4.55). The response to the question “what are three words that describe how you feel at school” was an open ended way of eliciting students’ opinions about their experience on campus.

“What are three words that describe how you feel at school?”“What are three words that describe how you feel at school?”We are proud to be one of the first schools launching an Inclusion and Belonging Dashboard in a PS - 8th school, and we will work toward including younger students and possibly families in the future.  We plan to administer our first formal survey with our 4 - 8th Grade students in February 2022. Stewart says, “While the work of analyzing and responding to the results of the survey is still very early, the process that got the school to this point has been deep and intentional. It will be exciting to see where the process takes us. Undoubtedly, the students at our school will benefit from the process of critically reflecting on how each one of them feels included at school.”

 Highlights from the Curriculum and Program team


Posted November 29, 2021