Write the Vision and Make It Plain: The Case for an Explicit Focus on Equity & Racial Equity to Accelerate Outcomes in Schools
CitationFloyd, Des. 2019. Write the Vision and Make It Plain: The Case for an Explicit Focus on Equity & Racial Equity to Accelerate Outcomes in Schools. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractEducational equity has two primary dimensions: fairness (OECD, 2008) and opportunity.
In the last 20 years, Massachusetts has consistently performed at or near the top of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and by comparison to the performance of leading countries on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 2018). Despite such record of high overall academic achievements, stubborn gaps in achievement loom large. Achievement gaps in education correlate largely with race, disability, English language learner classification, and socio-economic status (Cepa.stanford.edu, 2018). While there has been some progress, twenty years of education reform has not produced significant gains for traditionally underserved populations. The goal to drastically improve outcomes in the state’s underperforming schools has not yet been realized although recent emerging evidence of educational equity in some Massachusetts schools show signs of promise in accelerating outcomes, especially for marginalized populations.
This capstone is an attempt to break the surface of traditional bodies of turnaround research and school improvement interventions to uncover equity and racial equity-based interventions that are not a part of the state’s current version of the Turnaround Practices. The state has four (4) research-based practices (American Institutes for Research, 2016) and the practices do not include an intentional focus on equity and racial equity factors.
Turnaround Practice #1: Leadership, Shared Responsibility, and Professional Collaboration
Turnaround Practice #2: Intentional Practices for Improving Instruction
Turnaround Practice #3: Student-Specific Supports and Instruction to All Students
Turnaround Practice #4: School Climate and Culture
I recommend that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) prioritize its research agenda by focusing on educational equity and growing its existing evidence-base as well as revise its current research-based turnaround practices to include an explicit focus on the following:
1. Administrative observations and coaching to support teachers in providing culturally-responsive and high quality feedback to students;
2. Professional learning to improve teachers’ understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles with a focus on valuing diversity, identify and deconstructing implicit bias/expectations, and best practices in inclusion; and,
3. Administrators and teachers actively work to foster safe schools through the development of trusting adult-student relationships and positive identification with school to promote a healthy school climate and culture.
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