The study explored how K-12 educators define equity, identify types and sources of inequity, and work to achieve equity for their students
Portland, Ore. — April 18, 2023 — NWEA – a not-for-profit, research and educational services organization serving K-12 students – released today a new study featuring perspectives and insights from districts, school leaders, and teachers on equity initiatives, challenges, and recommendations for improving outcomes. Overall, the study found alignment in how equity is defined by the education community and how important it is to make it a priority focus across all aspects of the education ecosystem.
Using a blind study format in which the participants were not aware that the research was for NWEA, the research team conducted 61 online interviews in 2022. Participants represented the education leader and teacher populations in U.S. public schools. The study explored how K-12 district and school leaders and teachers define equity, identify the types and sources of inequity that exist for their students, work to achieve equity for their students, including determining key hurdles to overcome, and how their district’s political and local environment (or other factors like demographics) may impact how they think and act differently when it comes to equity.
- The importance of equity was clearly agreed upon by U.S. educators and district/school leaders with equity being defined in a similar manner: ensure that every student receives the resources and support they need to succeed in learning.
- Family support emerged as a new component in the definition of equity.
- Almost all study participants shared challenges in implementing effective strategies and initiatives to address equity issues.
- The impacts of the pandemic increased the focus on equity, specifically on the needs of the individual child instead of overall systemic inequities.
- Communicating the value of and actions needed to achieve equity continues to be a challenge, especially in polarized communities.
“This study confirms that educators are passionate about ensuring the needs of each student are met and that barriers to opportunities are removed,” said Fenesha Hubbard, MEd, leading NWEA expert on equity-focused professional learning and upcoming author of The Equity Expression: 6 Entry Points for Nonnegotiable Academic Success. “It also reiterated that equity work is deeply individual and cannot be approached with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.”
Hubbard offered these recommendations for approaching equity work, based on the study findings:
- When it comes to enacting equity, schools need a way to think about and approach equity from a different perspective so that it doesn’t feel like one more thing to implement. One way to do this is to focus on equity as it relates to content and academic success, using the six Entry Points for Equity: mindsets, relationships, products, spaces, processes, and systems. The Entry Points for Equity is a framework to guide the equity conversation and provide educators with tools to empower them as change agents and move students toward success.
- Educators must understand how mindsets and relationships can work together for equitable teaching and learning experiences to occur. When educators bring these dimensions of equity into our work, it will help them better work with families and caregivers.
- Equity work requires that we take responsibility for the academic success of learners, and that we believe all students deserve access to high quality teaching and learning. Educators must be deliberate in raising their awareness of self and others, exploring their beliefs, and examining their actions, while always keeping students in the forefront of their minds and at the center of all conversations.
- Understanding the different academic identities of students — the dispositions and beliefs that make up a student’s relationship with teaching, learning, and subject areas such as math or science — is one way to begin to address equity. It’s imperative that teachers make a conscious effort to support the development of healthy academic identities in our learners.
NWEA® (formerly known as Northwest Evaluation Association) is a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators in more than 146 countries through research, assessment solutions, policy and advocacy services, professional learning and school improvement services that fight for equity, drive classroom impact and push for systemic change in our educational communities. Visit NWEA.org to learn more about how we’re partnering with educators to help all kids learn.
Contact: Simona Beattie, Sr. Manager, Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org or 971.361.9526