School social workers who apply an anti-racism lens can address problems like these and offer innovative strategies for assessing organizational change by targeting beliefs about racial equity among their colleagues in school settings. The Assessing Workplace Attitudes toward Racial Equity Beliefs (AWARE-b) scale is designed to assess individual beliefs about racial equity in school settings. This study operationalizes the concept of racial equity work and proposes beliefs about racial equity as a construct that can be measured using the AWARE-b scale.
Methods: Existing literature from this study’s theoretical frameworks, best practices from anti-racism change work, along with the researcher’s professional experience as a school social worker, an anti-racist trainer, and Black mother of two children, offered a multifaceted approach to generate an initial pool of forty-three items. Eleven expert judges agreed to review the initial set of items. Following expert panel feedback, a preliminary test (n=38) of the remaining thirty items and a focus group (n=3) was held. Twenty-five items were used in the pilot sample (n=140) which included teaching and non-teaching staff, who currently work in a P-12 school campus setting in the state of Texas.
Results: Exploratory results from the pilot study indicate the 16-Item AWARE-b items have a good factor structure with good internal reliability and construct validity. The factor loadings ranged from .58 to .83, which indicated a good factor structure with a total Cronbach’s alpha at .94.
Conclusions and Implications: As the first school-based racial equity measure to include non-teaching staff, the 16-Item AWARE-b offers (1) a set of items specific to racial equity within the context of a school setting, which can be used by all personnel and (2) a tool that can be used by school administrators to assess the racial equity beliefs of their staff. The AWARE-b measure offers a new area of study in how we approach and merge anti-racism and organizational change work within education. While the pilot study provided evidence of a valid measure for racial equity in schools, future research should involve a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to further support these findings. Finally, studies that qualitatively explore how social workers understand and promote racial equity should be considered.