Ushma Shah

Knox graduate to lead school district's achievement initiative

Educator Ushma Shah "to help bridge achievement gaps" between ethnic groups

August 04, 2011

Knox College graduate Ushma Shah has been named chief of staff of equity and social justice for the Elgin School District U46, the second-largest district in Illinois.

"Shah will take on the district's newly created position of chief of equity and social justice," reports a recent story in the Elgin Courier News. "The chief of equity and social justice will examine the impact of district decisions on different racial and ethnic groups. She also will develop interventions to help bridge achievement gaps, especially for students who are black and Hispanic, among other responsibilities.

"The position grew out of the district goal to 'eliminate achievement gaps' by 2015, part of its Destination 2015 accountability plan," the Courier News reported.

"The Board of Education and I, through Destination 2015 and through their ongoing discussions and professional development, have made racial equity and closing the achievement gap a priority for this district," said Elgin Superintendent José Torres in a written statement. "Dr. Shah brings to U46 her expertise and her proven ability to work with school leaders in closing the achievement gap between student groups."

Shah's past experience includes serving as a consultant to the Chicago Public School District and the Illinois State Board of Education, working as a curriculum director for North Cook Intermediate Service Center and as the founding principal of North Cook Young Adult Academy, an alternative middle school for Chicago-area students at risk of expulsion. She also has taught collaborative arts and fifth grade at Sabin Magnet School in Chicago.

A 1992 Knox graduate, Shah earned her bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, in educational studies and anthropology-sociology. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and received the Howell Atwood Award for outstanding achievement in anthropology and the Philip Haring & John Houston Award for promoting international understanding on campus. She has a master's degree in education, curriculum and instruction from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a doctorate from Harvard University, where she received a graduate fellowship to the Urban Superintendents Program.