Estimated Time to Complete: 2 hours

This module explains the importance of educational equity to the continuous improvement of education in Ohio. Without better educational equity school and district performance (e.g., on external accountability measures) will not improve much, and not in a sustainable way. Equity is important because it is the backbone of continuous improvement (BASA, 2022; Park, 2018).

Educational equity is important, as well, because changing the related practices is so difficult. Leading the struggle to improve equity requires better insight, better understanding, and considerable courage.

The module engages the following questions:

  • What is equity? What is diversity? What is economic inequality? How are they related?
  • Where do economic inequality and racism come from?
  • What is the connection between educational equity and race, ethnic, and class prejudice?
  • What can educational leaders and teams do in the face of growing economic inequality and rising racism?
  • How do school systems build infrastructures that support learning for all students, especially the marginalized, minoritized, and economically disadvantaged?

This module aligns with Ohio’s Leadership Development Framework in the following areas:

  • Area 1: Data and the Decision-Making Process
  • Area 2: Focused Goal Setting Process
  • Area 3: Instruction and the Learning Process

And this module is essential background for using several other OLAC modules:

Discussion Questions

  1. Discuss the degree to which you believe different segments of the population participate as valued members of the school system (e.g., in your local district, in Ohio, and in the US). To what extent do these groups act as if they have a stake in their education or the education of their children? How do you know? If you don’t know, how might you find out? Are some segments more involved than others? Why? What might the DLT and the BLTs do to increase meaningful participation and engagement of all students, families, and community members?

  2. How does economic inequality affect your community and its schools? Does the influence differ from school to school? How? Why? What might the DLT do to alter this influence (that is, with tools, policies, and practices under its control)? What are the odds that the DLT would take this step? Why do you give it such odds? How might the engagement of the DLT in this work be strengthened?

  3. The culture of a school determines the collective efficacy of teachers—how competent they believe themselves, as a group, to be in meeting the educational needs of all students. How might teachers' experiences contribute to their feelings of competence in meeting the needs of marginalized and minoritized students? What steps can a district’s DLT and its BLTs take to improve school culture in ways that improve the collective efficacy of teachers? Consider the organizational structures and role of administrators in providing the kinds of support needed to create more open and inclusive school cultures and thereby increase collective efficacy.


Introductory Activities

  1. Identifying and Capitalizing on Community Assets

    Identify the various groups of students served by your district and the school(s) within your district:

    • List the deficit view typically associated with each group (e.g., females are less capable in math and science).
    • List the assets of each group.
    • Consider how each group typically adapts to the school environment.
    • Identify the messages that are communicated to each group (intended and unintended) and the possible effects those messages have on performance and achievement.
    • Identify what can be done to alter the specific messages that limit learning opportunities and outcomes for students from each group.
    • Identify what can be done in general across the district and its schools to replace a deficit view of diversity with an assets-based view.

Advanced Activities

  1. Start a Serious Conversation about Equity in the DLT

    A “serious” conversation about equity is the one that focuses the collective attention of DLT members on the long-term challenge of improving equity. This module has been clear about why that challenge is so difficult. The DLT needs to develop that clarity, too.

    • Assess the readiness of the DLT for this conversation.

      This is best done with a small subset of educators who are already well-informed and committed to engaging the challenge. Assessment could be informal (conversation only) or based on data (e.g., findings from an equity audit). Note that information about the DLT’s readiness should be used to identify entry points for starting the serious conversation, not to determine if the conversation should take place. Notably, all DLTs, irrespective of their readiness or receptivity, should begin the conversation, but their entry points might differ.

    • Depending on the assessment results, organize the meeting for the full DLT.

      What will the agenda include? Will other participants be invited who are not yet members of the DLT? What procedures will you use to elicit differing views? How many sessions do you anticipate will be needed to air the issues, reach consensus on a few issues to address, and plan how to address them (hint: more than one, and likely as many as three or four)?

    • Identify the threats to the ongoing equity effort as a result of this series of meetings.

      How will the DLT manage the threats? How can the threats be mitigated over time? What alliances can be activated to support the ongoing equity effort?

    • Decide how family and student participation will be secured, moving forward.

      Options include (but are not limited to) DLT membership, periodic interviews with students and family members, and a separate advisory committee. Selecting the best option depends on knowledge of local circumstances.

    • Establish a core team to lead the equity work.

      How will you identify members? What roles will structure the work of the core team? Will the team include a student? A family member? Why or why not?

    • Identify key issues of educational inequity and make plans to change the most relevant practice.

      Start with just one practice. Determine the action steps needed to change the practice and develop an implementation plan (including an implementation timetable). Also determine what data the DLT will need to collect in order to monitor progress. Periodically monitor progress and see if changes to the implementation plan are needed. Determine when it’s time to address a second practice.

You can earn credit and contact hours for modules, webinars, and podcasts completed on the OLAC site.

For more information, visit the Credit Corner. If you’re seeking credit for the Gifted Education Professional Development Course or the Culturally Responsive Practices Program courses, you can find that information on the course overview pages.