The words you are searching are inside this book. To get more targeted content, please make full-text search by clicking here.
Discover the best professional documents and content resources in AnyFlip Document Base.
Published by ninacrum12, 2019-05-22 16:12:57

EDUCATIONAL-EQUITY -page mock-up 052219

EDUCATIONAL-EQUITY -page mock-up 052219


Julie A. Marsh
Julia E. Koppich

Additional members
of the LCFFRC:
Daniel Humphrey
Magaly Lavadenz
Jennifer O’Day
David Plank
Laura Stokes

June 27, 2018


inside front cover - BLANK

Educational Equity in (Greater) L.A.
A Research Agenda in Service to Practice

The Center on Educa on Policy, Equity and Governance (CEPEG) developed this research agenda to advance
educa on equity in the Greater Los Angeles region. As a Center, we further seeks to develop mutually
beneficial rela onships with local districts, in order to help these systems and schools develop and extend
their own equity work. To advance these goals, CEPEG organized six dialogues over the course of 2018 and
2019 with 141 school and district leaders, advocacy groups, and scholars from across Southern California. We
asked: (1) How do you define equity? (2) What are the biggest challenges to equity in your district/districts
you work with? (3) How are you addressing these issues? and (4) What one ques on do you have regarding
these ini a ves that would benefit from research (i.e., Where do you need more informa on)? We took notes
on par cipants’ responses and iden fied salient themes, as well as the frequency with which they arose
across dialogues. In addi on to cataloguing par cipants’ defini ons of equity, we linked these defini ons with
a typology of conceptualiza ons of equity (see Fig. 1). The typology, adapted from Allbright (2018) describes
the assump ons regarding the meaning of inequity, processes for alloca ng resources, and to whom that
underlie different defini ons of equity. The idea behind the typology, following Stone (year) is that how
policymakers and prac oners define equity shape how they distribute policy resources and to whom. Equity
policies are not all the same, in support of equity, Common themes emerging across the dialogues provide
the basis for the following research priori es and ques ons.

Figure 1. Typology of Four Perspectives on Equity (adapted from Allbright et al., 2018)

Transforma ve Democra c Liberal Liberal Libertarian

The goal is… Freedom from Universal high Equal opportunity Fair compe on
oppression performance

Inequity Oppression and social Outcome gaps Unequal Some unfairly
means… stra fica on (including among social groups, opportunity or receive advantages
White supremacy, such as racial, SES, or access due to that are not earned
heteropatriarchy, and gender groups background or deserved
economic injus ce) characteris cs
(typically SES and
other non-racial

Inputs are In ways that challenge Adequately to Equally except Equally except
distributed… historical and societal support universal when some need when some earn
power dynamics high outcomes more more

Greater Marginalized students Under-performing Disadvantaged Gi ed and
resources go students students advanced students

Processes Empower marginalized Support high levels of Be fair to all Be fair to all
should… students; Recognize achievement and students, mee ng students in order
intersec onality; close outcome gaps needs to create a to accurately
Outcomes Develop cri cal among groups level playing field determine merit
should… consciousness; Change
oppressive beliefs and
prac ces

Include students’ Meet a universal high Vary based on Vary based on
empowerment and academic students’ merit students’ merit
humaniza on; performance but not based on
Achievement gaps standard students’ needs
should be socially and


Par cipants generally agreed that defining equity is something they have struggled to do. Some districts and
organiza ons had adopted a formal defini on; others had not. Some indicated that there was varia on or
inconsistency within their organiza on or across administra ve levels, asking, “Even if the state is thinking
about equity in certain ways, are school staff?” Defining equity was some mes a conten ous process. A
par cipant in one region noted that adults’ discomfort with equity talk got in the way of progress on the
issue. When a conversa on about equity is uncomfortable for adults, they “make it about themselves, suck all
the air out of the room, and we don’t talk about those issues anymore.” Alongside evidence of conten on or
confusion, common pa erns did emerge. Broadly, conceptualiza ons of equity seemed to largely reflect
liberal or democra c liberal concep ons of equity, although we did hear some reference to transforma ve
and libertarian concep ons. were embedded in reform efforts, such as the Local Control Funding Formula or
mul - ered systems of support, and fell into four categories that generally reflect liberal or democra c liberal
concep ons of equity:

A. Equity as meeting the needs of particular student populations, often those groups targeted by
oppression associated with these social identities. Par cipants across regions made reference to equity as
mee ng the needs of specific groups of students by race, income, language status, sexual orienta on or
gender iden ty, or disability. In wealthier districts we heard a concern that changes in the funding for gi ed
students meant that they may not be ge ng the resources they need to reach their poten al.

B. Equity as addressing “gaps.” Par cipants described equity as addressing dispari es in achievement,
outcomes, access, opportunity, resources, and discipline rates affec ng groups along lines of gender, race,
language status, sexual orienta on/gender iden ty, disability and socio-economic class. ¶

C. Equity as advancing opportunity and/or access: This equity defini on overlapped with the discussion of
“gaps” and with concern for par cular student popula ons. In some cases this meant a focus on closing
achievement gaps or talk of certain students being “behind.” In other cases the focus was on providing “equal
access to high level instruc on and opportuni es for all students.”

D. Equity as distinct from equality. Several par cipants noted that equity is different from equality, or that, as
one superintendent’s board had said to them, “We’ve been equal, we want to be equitable.” This concep on
was connected to giving different students the (poten ally disparate) things they need in order to succeed or
advance. We heard that equity meant “resources, staff where they’re needed the most.”

There were different views about equity, and not everyone within or across organiza ons was on the same
page. There was common reference to a popular graphic (see above) in which children are given equal
numbers of boxes to see over a fence (equality) but they can’t all see over it un l they receive enough boxes
for their individual heights (equity). Most defini ons of equity aligned with a liberal or democra c concep on
(the second image). There is a third image in this series that focuses more on structural issues and jus ce that
is more indica ve of transforma ve concep on of equity. We heard these concep ons of equity from a few
individuals, as reflected in statements priori zing empowerment of communi es to name and challenge
ins tu onalized racism in schools.


Reported challenges to advancing equity fell into three broad categories: the social and poli cal context
surrounding schools, human and technical capacity to do equity work, and funding.

Larger social and political factors outside schools contribute to inequity. Par cipants across regions
men oned one or more factors such as poverty; trauma associated with classism, racism, anxiety around
immigra on status, as well as psychological trauma more broadly; student mobility; homelessness; and
community violence affec ng equity for their students. For example, par cipants in one region noted that a
local wellness fair was organized for families, but that some immigrant parents le the event because of
police presence. In another region, a district leader highlighted the inequity faced by poor students in a
wealthy district where teachers o en sent home a list of suggested classroom supplies to donate. Some
par cipants also noted that the poli cal climate bounds what is possible in terms of equity.

Nested inequalities make it particularly difficult to advance equity. Par cipants noted dispari es in
outcomes, access, opportunity, resources, and discipline rates affec ng groups across gender, race, language
status, sexual orienta on, gender iden ty, disability and socio-economic class. For example, we heard about
resource gaps between poor and non-poor families, as well as language achievement gaps between African
American male students and others. There was general concern for vulnerable popula ons iden fied as being
in greater need, having less access, or being overlooked, but there was varia on in which groups of students
were highlighted. Some par cipants were more focused on the needs of students with disabili es, for
example, while others wanted to improve their support of transgender students.

Biases and beliefs among teachers and other district staff impede equity. A number of par cipants noted
that teachers, staff, or school leaders held deficit perspec ves about students that thwart a empts to close
achievement gaps or make other changes. As one district leader observed, “Without a culture of belief that
you can and will close the gap, nothing is ever going to happen, no matter what strategies you try - they’re
not going to be very effective.” This district leader also stated their percep on that some teachers who
recognized inequi es in their schools did not always recognize their own part in the problem. Another district
leader perceived a discrepancy between what some teachers said publicly and the ac ons they took in their

Many teachers, staff, and administrators lack the knowledge and skills to implement equitable practices.
Several par cipants across regions told us that teachers in their districts do not have the skills to promote
equity effec vely in the classroom. In some cases neither teachers nor administrators were aware of available
community resources to address issues such as trauma, or to equitably address discipline challenges.

Districts use data to address equity, but they need more or different data than they have. District leaders
reported needing data that are more locally relevant and more fine-grained (e.g., breaking racial group
achievement data down by gender). Others noted that incomplete structures or a lack of meliness at the
state level cause a lag, meaning it can take years to iden fy low-performing schools. Administrators in some
wealthy districts wanted to support students in poverty, but struggled to iden fy them because federal school
lunch laws prohibit tracking that data.

Filling positions could also pose equity challenges. Some districts struggle to recruit or retain faculty, while
exis ng personnel are frequently absent or experience low morale. One par cipant noted that their
predominantly white teaching force doesn’t reflect the racial demographics of their students: “we serve a
community of color”-- a common problem, according to research. Another lamented the ways changes in
district leadership could nega vely impact progress toward equity in schools.

Participants felt that districts and schools lack sufficient resources to address the above concerns. Funding
challenges surfaced across regions, including challenges to hiring sufficient staff, providing needed supports
for families, providing addi onal instruc onal or social and emo onal supports to historically disadvantaged
students (e.g. English Learners).

Participants were concerned about how funding streams were structured. Several saw the state’s new
funding system, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) as a posi ve turn toward equity. However, districts
that don’t qualify for extensive supplemental/concentra on grants via LCFF (funds generated by students who
are low-income, foster youth, and EL) reported struggling to build robust programs to support those
popula ons. Others noted the challenge of mee ng the needs of gi ed students or students with disabili es
without a dedicated funding stream.

Base funding was also a concern. Several par cipants wanted to know how to access federal or state dollars
to meet student need, while others shared sugges ons and experiences. Some districts had gone to coun es
for assistance, though the assistance wasn’t always adequate. One par cipant voiced a cau on that “there
could be more money in the system; however, if the schools do not have the capacity then it is almost like
wasted money.”


Across the board, par cipants had rela vely less to say about the strategies they employ to advance equity.
Broadly speaking, the strategies named tended to emphasize professional development or to be framed in
terms of exis ng policies, such as LCFF, rather than innova ve approaches or efforts specifically designed with
equity promo on in mind. We heard li le about efforts that specifically target structural barriers and
deep-seated biases.

Strategies currently in use in schools and districts did not, for the most part, a empt to address the social and
poli cal context of students and schools. In some cases, however, they did appear to be aimed at those
students most likely to be affected by social and poli cal factors (e.g., immigrant students, students affected
by racism and/or poverty). In the case of poverty, these social factors were named explicitly. Racism was
generally not explicitly men oned, though par cipants did name strategies focused on par cular racial

Districts are using a variety of strategies to increase their financial resources. Districts are leveraging LCFF
dollars, school bonds, parcel taxes, and grants from state and county agencies to obtain resources for

Districts hired staff or directed staff time to equity-promoting work. Strategies included placing equity
coaches on campuses to give feedback and build on observa ons, employing data support teams at schools
that meet regularly with site administrators, and hiring an EL director and team devoted to that student
popula on. In two regions we heard about long-term networks or formal advisory boards being used to
promote equity.

Some schools and districts brought in external organizations or collaborators to do this work, or to train
their own staff. These organiza ons included the Arenda Consul ng Group, Cambio Group, Youth Trusts, Boys
Town, Circle of Friends, and the ACSA Equity Ini a ve.

Participants identified processes that sought to promote equity for students.

At the classroom level: These approaches include individualized instruc on for students with
disabili es; Universal Design for Learning, and Kate Kinsella’s Five for All (for ELs). Par cipants in one
region specifically men oned the importance of student-teacher rela onships.

At the school level: Schools across regions used frameworks such as Posi ve Behavioral Interven ons
and Support (PBIS). They also used data -- including academic and non-academic measures--to
provide differen ated small group instruc on, to target academic interven ons to struggling
students, or as part of PBIS.

At the district level: Some districts adopted PBIS or similar frameworks at the district level, as well as
programs such as Capturing Kids Hearts. One district leader also noted that they were trying to work
in a transparent fashion around resource alloca on. Others are using data to target interven ons.

Districts are providing trainings and professional development for teachers and staff, some of which
come from external providers, while others are developed within the district.


Par cipants wanted more prac ce-relevant research in four key areas: efforts to build social capacity, poli cal
capital, human and technical capacity, and financial capacity to promote equity.

How to sustain and improve equity initiatives over time. As one par cipant said, “Sustainability is the issue;
it can’t be flavor of the month.” Several noted that both research and funding tend to focus on ini al
implementa on, rather than on sustaining ini a ves or making con nuous improvement.

How to identify where to start, how to prioritize, and how to organize efforts among many possible
prac ces and interven ons. “Everything can be tagged as an equity issue that we ‘need to do,”’ but they may
not be the most important thing to do first.”

How to involve teachers and practitioners in ongoing assessment of equity reforms. Some stakeholders felt
that evalua ng current work was even more important than adop ng new ini a ves. They urged more
par cipatory approaches to evalua on of current work. We heard that “Implementation research is not really
aligned with how real life education systems function.”

How to reduce staff bias and improve staff skills/capacity to increase equity in the classroom. Not only was
this a common concern, but stakeholders wanted to know how to sustain and improve bias reduc on and
staff skills over me.

How to use data and where to get more relevant data in order to allocate scarce resources and put
resources toward high need populations. In par cular, districts cited a need for local data, longitudinal data,
and data on vulnerable student popula ons that are more fine grained (e.g., racial data broken down by
gender). Some districts wanted to find ways to iden fy students with low family incomes, though federal
policies impede doing so.

How to develop and sustain targeted programs (e.g., for students with disabili es, gi ed students) in light of
limited funding. Several par cipants cited the need for more funding for students with disabili es. Some
noted that their districts no longer had dedicated funding for gi ed students, making it hard to meet those
students’ par cular needs. At the same me, schools that have high popula ons of students who qualify for
supplemental funds under LCFF, but that are in districts that don’t meet the threshold for concentra on
funding, struggle to create robust programs targe ng those students’ needs and would like the addi onal

How and where to best target available resources based on actual evidence of interventions’
cost-effectiveness. District leaders want to know what the best and most cost-effec ve interven ons are, so
they can target scarce funds to their highest priori es. For example, which are the best ways to support
students in poverty, or to close the achievement gap? As one par cipant commented, “Because there’s not
enough money. So what’s the return on investment? If I have $100k, where do I spend it? . . . . Is it curriculum?

Class size? Mentoring? Extra hours? If I’m short on resources, or if I have a bit left over, where do I get the
most bang for my buck?”

Right now, this page would print on the inside back


Based on the evidence gathered, we iden fied three priori es for future research. We believe studies
addressing these topics offer great hope for advancing equity in the LA area and beyond.

1. Focus on ways to build social/political, human, technical, and financial capacity for equity work. Even
where the will exists, lack of resources (know-how, strategy, money) can impede efforts for equity work.
Equity-minded prac oners and policymakers need guidance on how to fund and sustain equity work,
specifically where to find the resources to address implicit biases, and how to address poli cal obstacles and
to work across poli cal lines. This involves iden fica on of best practices and innovative solutions. It also
involves expanding available resources so that school and district staff, advocacy groups, parents and
community organizations can offer more, and more innovative, options. More research is needed on the
role of social and professional networks as tools for bringing reforms to scale and building capacity for work
over me.

2. Districts should pursue organizational clarity around definitions or assumptions underlying conceptions
of equity. Researchers should try to understand the implementation of equity efforts, and the assumptions
that people bring to the efforts, about what equity means and how those meanings shape implementation
beyond the study design. Prac oners can agree on the importance of equity and disagree about what it
means. The classic example of this difference is thinking about equity as equal star ng points for all students
versus equity as redistribu on of resources to address historical inequi es. More research is needed on
transforma ve policy approaches to equitable schooling, where the end goal is radical and fundamental
change, as opposed to nkering on the edges. How do we design for equity-focused policies that build in the
need for capacity building, including advancing consistent equity mindsets among all stakeholders, not just
money and structures?

3. Investigate race-conscious and race-blind approaches to equity and their implications for educators and
students. Research is needed that inves gates race-conscious and race-blind approaches to equity and their
implica ons for educators and students. How can educators address systemic racial gaps and structural racism
in the context of educa on policies that are typically race-blind? What are promising ways to bring racial
equity to the forefront in school and district reform efforts? This principle connects with a larger strategy of
making sure that equity-oriented reform approaches are aligned with district assump ons about equity.
Transforma ve approaches to equity require, for example, being explicit about race, pushing on community
and external structures such as housing segrega on, and involving prac oners and others via par cipatory
research methods.


Click to View FlipBook Version