Equity Defined

What is educational equity? How do we know it when we see it and feel it? What is inequity?

Educational Equity is academic success and belonging for each and every student.

Educational equity is about individuals, relationships, and systems. A school that is educationally equitable is one in which we accept and value each individual for who they are and provide the structures, environment, and resources each student needs to reach their greatest potential. This creates the long-term impact of educating globally skilled and engaged citizens and creating a more just world.

In a practical sense, educational equity looks like:

  • Authentic relationships with and among students, staff and families
  • Curriculum, instruction and assessment that is adaptive as well as responsive to-- and reflective of-- the student learners
  • Resources and supports required for learning are provided for all learners
  • High expectations for each student, with all students meeting academic expectations
  • Welcoming and safe school environments
  • An understanding and articulation that schools are a key setting for the formation of societal equity

And for students, equity feels like:

  • I am valued for my strengths and contributions
  • I am respected for who I am
  • My voice is heard and appreciated
  • I feel cared about and I care about others
  • I see myself, my family, and my community represented
  • I feel comfortable and welcomed
  • I am confident and challenged
  • I am empowered to achieve my goals and full potential
  • I see my place and responsibility in creating a better future

The principle of educational equity acknowledges the existence of inequity. Educational inequity—underrepresentation of some student populations in measures of academic belonging and achievement—is persistent, predictable, and unacceptable. Underrepresented students often experience inequities that include:

  • Unwelcoming schools
  • Invisibility in curriculum and instruction
  • Math or reading skills below grade level
  • Academic course or program tracking and misplacement
  • Underrepresentation in advanced academics and STEM courses
  • Low expectations from educators
  • Strained relationships with educators
  • High rates of discipline and suspension
  • Delayed or denied graduation

At a minimum, to create educational equity we must evaluate ourselves by the fundamental equity lens questions:

Who is benefiting? (from our policies, practices, or procedures)

Who is marginalized? (by our policies, practices, or procedures)

How will we expand benefit and reduce marginalization?

Get comfortable with these questions. Ask them repeatedly and regularly. And, as we ask ourselves these questions, we must place an emphasis on historically, traditionally and consistently underserved, marginalized and underrepresented students. We must emphasize the needs, experiences, and outcomes for students who identify as:

Black and of African descent, Chicanx/Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous Nations or American Indian

and the compounded experiences of students at intersection of race and the labels or identities:

Immigrant, Refugee, English Learner, LGBTQ, free or reduced-price lunch, religious minority, special education, homeless or highly mobile.

Expanding educational equity prioritizes educational outcomes for underserved student populations with the faith and understanding that every student benefits from equity-focused pedagogy.