Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo


Fair outcomes, treatment, and opportunities for all students.

Skip QSF Main Navigation

Ensuring equity in education is a necessary component in narrowing the achievement gap. Teachers and school leaders ensure equity by recognizing, respecting, and attending to the diverse strengths and challenges of the students they serve. High-quality schools are able to differentiate instruction, services, and resource distribution to respond effectively to the diverse needs of their students, with the aim of ensuring that all students are able to learn and thrive.

QSF LogoResources


  • Time to Reclassification: How Long Does It Take English Language Learners in the Washington Road Map School Districts To Develop English Proficiency? External link opens in new window or tab.
    Local educational agency leaders may use the six primary findings from this report to examine the different levels of support that English learner students (ELs) need to achieve reclassification when entering school at different grade levels with differing levels of English proficiency. This knowledge may also help educators identify specific programs and practices that help ELs gain English proficiency quickly and effectively.
  • English Learner Tool Kit for Local Education Agencies (LEAs), and State Educational Agency (SEAs) External link opens in new window or tab.
    The tool kit produced by the Office of English Language Acquisition at the U.S. Department of Education includes legal obligations, checklists, sample tools, and additional resources to ensure that English learners have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential. State, district, and school administrators, as well as teachers and stakeholders should use this tool kit to provide English learner students with the support they need to attain English language proficiency while meeting college and career-ready standards.
  • Coalition for Educational Equity for Foster Youth LCAP External link opens in new window or tab.
    The Coalition for Educational Equity for Foster Youth has developed a sample Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) with action steps and accountability measures that school districts can use to assist foster youth. The members of this coalition are former foster youth, advocates, service providers, and representatives from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and the juvenile court. The sample LCAP addresses three main goals: close the achievement gap between foster youth and the general student population, promote school stability and prevent push out of foster youth to alternative schools, and ensure foster youth are promptly enrolled in school and in the right classes.
    Note: While the LCAP template used in the sample is not current, the information contained within the sample does provide sound guidance.
  • Breaking the Glass Ceiling of Achievement for Low-income Students and Students of Color External link opens in new window or tab.
    This research provides effective strategies that would close the achievement gaps by elevating the low-performing low income students and also accelerating the middle and higher performers.
  • Falling Out of the Lead: Following High Achievers through High School and Beyond External link opens in new window or tab.
    This resource reviews national data on high achieving students of color and/or students from low socioeconomic levels.

Promising Practices


  • Choosing our Future: A Story of Opportunity in America External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    This compelling report for all leaders and stakeholders is a call to action for strategic planning processes that involves stakeholders and uses continuous improvement to sustain change. In order to broaden the opportunities for more Americans to achieve the American Dream, a comprehensive approach needs to be taken for interventions and continuous improvement; which are current themes in California’s new accountability system.
  • Adolescent Girls’ Experiences and Gender-Related Beliefs in Relation to Their Motivation in Math/Science and English External link opens in new window or tab.
    Educators and community leaders who seek STEM equity in schools, by engaging more students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, may read this study to understand what social and personal factors are related to students’ motivation in STEM. This information will be useful to leaders when determining the importance of implementing strategies to support STEM education within their schools and communities.
  • Exploring the Foundations of the Future STEM Workforce: K–12 Indicators of Postsecondary STEM Success External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    This is a review of 23 research studies on K–12 indicators that significantly predict students' postsecondary science, technology, engineering, and math (STEP) success with a specific focus on Hispanic students. Education leaders who seek equity in schools and strive to engage Hispanic students in STEM may find evidence of what engages and motivates Hispanic students in STEM in order to implement interventions at their schools and/or community.
  • Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    The National Women’s Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. identify in this report the barriers that restrict and limit the educational opportunities of many African American girls and the impact those barriers have on their lives. It provides nine recommendations to help identify and address the challenges faced by African American girls. This report stresses the continued need for greater educational equity and warns that race and gender disparities in opportunity and academic achievement lead to high dropout rates and limited job opportunities.
  • The School Discipline Consensus Report: Strategies from the Field to Keep Students Engaged in School and Out of the Juvenile Justice System External link opens in new window or tab.
    This report of over 400 pages includes an executive summary that explains the focus of the report and findings over the current practice where millions of students are being removed from their mainly middle and high school classrooms for overwhelmingly minor misconduct.  A disproportionately large number of disciplined students are youths of color, students with disabilities, and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. This is a comprehensive report, consensus-based from many professional groups, and a practical guide with real-world approaches.
  • Identifying and Supporting English Learner Students with Learning Disabilities: Key Issues in the Literature and State Practice External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    This document is intended for Education policymakers who want to develop and revise procedures for referral and identification of English learner students who may have learning disabilities. There are a set of guidelines to identify English learner students and then direct them to services they need to succeed in school.
  • An Early College Initiative in an Urban, High-Poverty High School First-Year Effects on Student Achievement and Non-Academic Indicators External link opens in new window or tab.
    While the ECHS movement gains momentum, further alignment of K–16 curriculum is paramount for developing student capacity across the system. This research document supports partnerships between high schools and post-secondary institutions that facilitate at-risk students earning a high school diploma along with college credits. Secondary and post-secondary administrators may use the study as research-based evidence to initiate plans for incorporating an early college high school model within a high –poverty school district.
  • ONE SYSTEM: Reforming Education to Serve All Students External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    This is a report produced by the California Statewide Task Force for Special Education in March 2015. It provides a blueprint for general and special education educators to work together seamlessly to address the needs of all students—as soon as those needs are apparent. Recommendations are made on how students with disabilities (SWD) receive effective services, learn in classrooms that are guided by one set of academic standards, expectations and accountability standards alongside their general education peers when appropriate, and are equipped with knowledge and skills to make their own way as adults. Within the system, services for SWD are provided from the time they are born through preschool, and until they graduate with a high school diploma or reach the age of 22; services are devised and implemented by well-prepared general and special education educators who work collaboratively to ensure the success of each student.
  • Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness: An Introduction to the Issues External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. § 11431 et seq.) addresses educational challenges created by homeless and guarantees students the right to enroll, attend and succeed in school. This brief provides basic information about the scope of the problem, the impact of homelessness on education, and the rights of children and youth of a public education. See also National Center for Homeless Education briefs External link opens in new window or tab., The McKinney-Vento Act At a Glance External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), and CDE's Homeless Liaison.
  • Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline External link opens in new window or tab.
    This federal guidance letter, translated into six languages, provides an overview of the Civil Rights Data Collection, summarizes schools' obligations to avoid and redress racial discrimination in administration of student discipline, explains the investigative process under Title IV and VI, and includes examples of school practices and policies that may violate civil rights laws.
  • Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation External link opens in new window or tab.
    This study uses a national database of 3,975 students born between 1979–1989 with parents surveyed every two years for economic and other factors to track the reading progress of these students. There are eight findings from this preliminary research on factors keeping students from finishing high school.
  • Early Reading Proficiency in the United States: Kids Count Data Snapshot External link opens in new window or tab.
    This report is an update on how fourth graders are faring in reading across the nation and in each State. The report provides data on the gap in fourth grade reading proficiency scores between lower and higher income students, disparities that remain across racial groups, and the significant disparity in reading scores by State.

Excerpted from CDE’s External Linking Policy: The CDE is providing these external links only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any external link does not imply endorsement by the CDE or any association with the sites' operators.


“Any goal of competitiveness and excellence must start with equity or be doomed to fail.” (1)

Students come to school with diverse backgrounds, abilities, talents, and challenges. Schools ensure equity by recognizing, respecting, and acting on this diversity. A common misperception is that equity means that all students are treated equally in all situations. In fact, high-quality schools have the capacity to differentiate instruction, services, and resource distribution to respond effectively to the diverse needs of their students, with the aim of ensuring that all students benefit equally.


Ensuring that all students benefit fully from public education has been one of our nation’s most challenging civil rights issues. The achievement gap is the most pronounced expression of this challenge. The U.S. Department of Education describes the achievement gap as “the difference in academic performance between different ethnic groups.” (1) Although this issue is often discussed in the singular—as an achievement gap—there are actually multiple gaps, in addition to ethnicity, based on such factors as socioeconomics, disabilities, and English language proficiency. California is not exempt from this challenge, as achievement gaps among our students have remained largely unchanged for many years.

In California, achievement gaps are defined as the academic achievement disparities between white students and other ethnic groups, as well as between English learners and native English speakers, socioeconomically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities compared to students without disabilities. (2) For some student populations (often referred to as subgroups), achievement levels are comparatively very low. Further, recent studies show that California schools also face school-climate gaps that are racially and ethnically defined, with student reports of key school-climate factors, such as safety, support, and engagement, differing across schools. (3)

Student achievement indicators can serve as the primary measure of the effectiveness of our education system. If we are to reduce and ultimately eliminate these achievement and climate gaps, school leaders will need to ensure equity for each and every student.


Research shows that equity in schooling is reflected in four broad areas: a) resource distribution, b) programs, c) school climate, and d) achievement. (1) Resource equity addresses the distribution of, and access to, high-quality administrators, teachers, and other school personnel; funding; high-quality materials and equipment; technology; facilities; and community resources or partnerships. Programmatic equity refers to the policies and practices that lead to student participation in curricular and extracurricular courses, programs, or other activities, as policies and practices relate to student selection, enrollment, support, assessment, and completion. School climate equity addresses student engagement, academic and other supports for students, and safety. (2) Achievement equity addresses the academic outcomes and performance of all students on all indicators.

Effective school leaders help ensure equity by using data to make decisions about all of their systems, policies, procedures, and practices, and to make sure that their students are not negatively impacted by their actions. (3) Addressing the following equity-related goals is key to ensuring that no inequities exist and that every student, regardless of his or her background or personal characteristics, will experience success and high achievement. (4)

Six Goals of Equity in Education

Research and best practices in high-quality, effective schools reveal six goals for education equity. (5)

Goal 1

Quality schools will produce comparably high academic achievement and other positive outcomes for all students on all achievement indicators.

This first equity goal is overarching: school leaders will provide and target every opportunity and resource to obtain comparably high academic and other positive outcomes for every student on all achievement indicators. Fulfillment of the remaining goals contributes to high outcomes for all students. Given that achievement gaps are an expression of inequity, comparably high achievement for all students across all indicators (including but not limited to attendance/absenteeism rates, promotion/retention rates, and graduation/drop-out rates) serves as evidence of equity leading to excellence.

Goal 2

Quality schools will provide equitable access and inclusion for all students.

This goal refers to eliminating disproportion, which is the under- and over-representation of various student groups in special education, gifted and talented programs, such “gateway” classes as algebra and geometry, honors and advanced placement classes, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classes and programs, college preparatory classes, extracurricular programs and activities, support and counseling programs, and opportunities such as internships and scholarships. Inequities in these areas often stem from ineffective policies, systems, and procedures (e.g., creating the master schedules) for student placement. Equitable access and inclusion requires identifying students’ individual needs, removing barriers to access, and providing appropriate accommodations for those students who need them. Equitable access and inclusion also involve providing parents and students with adequate and clear information so that they are empowered to make good decisions and choices that benefit students and align with their interests. In a school with equitable access and inclusion, school staff, parents, and students work together to outline programs of study that facilitate all students to academic success.

Goal 3

Quality schools will treat all students equitably.

High-quality schools create and maintain environments that value and promote acceptance, respect, support, and safety among the students and the staff. School leaders ensure that school handbooks, rules, guidelines, and all communications convey strong messages of respect for members of the school community, while simultaneously conveying that bullying and harassment are not tolerated. These schools implement programs to help students resolve conflict, develop socially and emotionally, and engage fully in the school community. Further, these schools ensure that disciplinary measures are administered fairly and appropriately across all student groups, without disproportionate negative outcomes for any group of students. School leaders attend to school climate, making sure that every student has a positive connection or relationship with at least one adult in the school, and making sure that all students are safe while they are on campus, as well as in transit to and from the school.

Goal 4

Quality schools will distribute resources equitably to meet the needs of all students.

The fair distribution of highly qualified administrators and teachers across schools is crucial to ensure resource equity throughout a district. Just as effective leaders can help schools improve, effective teachers have a tremendous positive impact on the achievement of their students. All students should have access to high-quality teachers at every grade level and in every subject area. Equitable resource distribution must also address the distribution and availability of up-to-date computers, other technology and laboratories, well-stocked libraries, high-quality instructional materials, and adequate supplies for all students, particularly those most in need and at-risk of school failure.

Goal 5

Quality schools will provide equitable opportunities to learn for all students.

Opportunities to learn are essential to a quality schooling experience. Effective school leaders ensure that every student enjoys a schooling experience that is conducive to learning and thriving, with school leaders providing everything students need in order to achieve academically. In fulfilling this goal, school leaders ensure that teachers have the on-going support and professional development they need in order to effectively teach all of their students; empower students to take responsibility for their own learning; and inform and equip parents to support learning at home and to effectively engage in their children’s overall schooling experience.

Goal 6

Quality schools will be responsible and accountable for the academic success of all students.

Leaders in these schools also build the capacity of faculty and staff to share in leadership and take responsibility for contributing to the success of every student. (6) In high-quality schools, all stakeholders (faculty, staff, students, parents) are informed about the achievement of the students. These schools follow protocols for regularly reviewing student data and addressing student progress. Their leaders communicate in a transparent fashion with the total school community (including parents and students) about desired outcomes and efforts to improve. These schools ensure that every student receives the academic support and services he or she needs in order to succeed.

Questions: Quality Schooling Framework | | 916-319-0836 
Last Reviewed: Friday, November 30, 2018
Related Content
  • Connecting with Stakeholders
    This strand of videos discusses the communication and relational factors essential to the success of any initiative.
  • Introduction to the QSF
    A conceptual model for gauging and supporting a school's effectiveness
  • Processes for Change
    This series of videos provides overviews about managing and implementing change at a broader level to make any specific strategies successful so that students learn and thrive.
  • QSF Videos
    The QSF videos are designed to provide process recommendations for organizational leaders and educational partners who wish to enact critical change--this is the 'how' of implementing positive organizational change.
Trending in Equity
  • Equity (this page)
Recently Posted in Equity
No items posted in the last 60 days.