4 Ways to Strive for Equity and Access in Your District
For many districts, conversations about equity and access have evolved beyond believing in and convincing others of the importance of equity. For the districts who have succeeded in prioritizing equity work and convincing stakeholders of the urgency in driving equitable learning outcomes, the next challenge is determining how to make equity goals a reality.
There is no single formula for creating an equitable learning environment. Every district has unique obstacles and every student has unique needs. The factors that enable inequities to persist are often out of educators’ influence, and so the equity mission can not entirely be solved by educators — but, there are general principles that can guide any district’s equity mission, and any positive difference teachers can make in a student’s life is one worth striving for.
Here are a few practices to consider as you tackle persistent inequities in your learning community:
Understand the Difference Between Equity and Equality
If this isn’t a conversation stakeholders and equity leaders in your district have already had, it’s an important space to explore. The difference between an equitable learning environment and an equal learning environment has to do with the fundamentals of your approach to resource distribution, student needs, and student experiences. In this video clip, Heath Morrison, McGraw-Hill Education School Group President, breaks down the difference between the two terms, and how that difference impacts education.
Involve All Stakeholders, Leaders, and the Community
Taking on persistent inequities is a monumental task that will span a great deal of time. It requires strong leadership, careful attention to research, and not only buy-in from stakeholders, but accountability systems and plenty of space for feedback and iteration. While educators can serve as critical figures in ensuring students have equitable learning experiences, they cannot make lasting changes in this space alone. It’s important to include all stakeholders and community members in any equity plans. In the clips below, hear from Heath Morrison and Dwight Jones, SVP, Equity, Inclusion, & Urban Markets, McGraw-Hill Education, on the importance of stakeholder and district leader accountability and involvement:
Balance Strategic Data Usage with Meaningful Relationships
Creating a truly equitable learning environment will require district leaders to make use of all available student data to identify spaces where inequities are having a particularly negative impact on student achievement. Using student data to monitor student progress and identify achievement gaps will allow educators to devise an equity plan that supports students where they need it the most. At the same time, it’s important to balance data analysis with meaningful relationships with students and a commitment to empathizing with student experiences. Watch this clip with Heath Morrison for more.
Practice Culturally Responsive Teaching
Many district leaders are aware of the importance of culturally responsive teaching practices, but are unclear on where to start in implementing them in a way that lasts. In the clip below, Dwight Jones recommends beginning with internal conversations about culture, beliefs, and potential biases with staff, and taking the time to have the difficult conversations that require all stakeholders to reflect on their experiences in order to effectively implement culturally responsive teaching practices. These internal conversations will positively impact students, and may positively impact the adults in your learning community as well.
For more on equity, access, and culturally responsive teaching, check out the following reads:
Access and equity are embedded into the ethos of many districts' strategic plans. The learning ecosystems that are…thelearningcounsel.com
By Dr. Anne Snyder and Claire Cook, Applied Learning Scientistsmedium.com