What School Leaders Can Do to Promote Educational Equity
Guiding Principles for Equity Part 3: Expand Your Equity Vision
Over the past few days, we’ve been recapping the key take-aways of our new research document, the Guiding Principles for Equity in Education. Authored by our applied learning sciences team, this guide to equity takes a look at existing research on the many elements of equitable learning systems, and summarizes research trends through the lens of learning science. The guide is intended specifically for school and district leaders, but is applicable for any educator looking to promote equitable practices in their learning community.
So far, we’ve taken a look at the first few principles of the guide, all of which focus on setting a strong foundation for equity. We’ve also looked at the second set of principles in the guide that primarily focus on the most important elements of an equity action plan, such as social and emotional learning or purposeful technology.
We encourage you to read the guide in full, because it contains the full list of principles, supporting research, and a list of actionable strategies for each principle. The full guide is here:
But for now, let’s take a quick look at the last set of principles, all of which highlight the areas where district or school leaders need to focus their energies on continuing the equity momentum.
Part Three: Expand Your Equity Vision
In this section of the guide, the authors encourage readers to consider the importance of continuing equity work once it’s started and pushing for more fundamental change — because after all, bringing educational equity to a community is not a finite process. It’s a constantly-evolving journey.
Here are the principles in part three:
Support: Deliver ongoing and professional learning opportunities.
Here’s a sample strategy from the support principle:
Integrate opportunities for collaboration among educators within schools, between districts, and beyond school systems into professional learning programs. These opportunities should a) expose staff to the perspectives and strategies of teachers that operate within different spaces or under different school cultures and b) encourage them to take risks or identify existing weaknesses. They can be powerful instigators of systemic change — at the classroom, school, or district scale (Chapman, Chestnutt, Friel, Hall, & Lowden, 2016).
Listen: Continually solicit feedback.
Here’s a sample strategy from the listen principle:
In both daily decision-making and overarching policy formation, place a high value on student voice. Research has demonstrated that equity policies are most effective when district leaders recognize students themselves as primary actors in shaping policy, rather than as the objects of policy reform. Students can provide valuable ideas and feedback that can be used to solve equity-related programs. Experts recommend using qualitative methods, such as interviews and naturalistic observations, as opposed to more quantitative methods, such as surveys, to promote dynamic communication (Mansfield, 2014).
Persist: Drive positive change through perseverance.
Here’s a sample strategy from the persist principle:
School or district leaders should regularly acknowledge their own responsibilities in relation to equity progress within the community. Educator and author Curtis Linton strongly encourages equity advocates to both instill and demonstrate a personal and moral obligation to supporting the achievement of all students, including those who have traditionally been marginalized (Linton, 2011).
For more on educational equity, see: