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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.

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  • A Promising Path Toward Equity External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    This article describes a project that was completed to offer tools developed for professional learning for principals, teachers, and support staff to lead with social emotional learning, implement restorative practices, and move toward equity.
  • The Social Justice Standards Facilitator’s Guide for Professional Development External link opens in new window or tab.
    The Social Justice Standards Guide provides all the materials required to facilitate professional development that introduces educators to the Social Justice Standards. The package includes step-by-step procedures, terminology, slides and handouts.
  • 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 and State Educational AgencyExternal link opens in new window or tab.
    The tool kit produced by the Office of English Language Acquisition at the United States 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 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) External link opens in new window or tab.
    The Coalition for Educational Equity for Foster Youth has developed a sample 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 BeyondExternal 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

  • Summer Learning and Beyond: Opportunities for Creating Equity External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    This report offers ways of designing summer learning experiences and creating ways of teaching that inspire and support young people to reach their full potential and to be thinkers, learners, and critically engaged community members.
  • Broadening the Benefits of Dual Enrollment: Reaching Underachieving and Underrepresented Students with Career-Focused ProgramsExternal link opens in new window or tab.
    The authors provide recommendations for effective dual enrollment practices and public policies. The authors provide tools, processes and procedures to improve educational outcomes for a broader range of students including at-risk, low-income pupils and those who are historically underrepresented in higher education. The authors collected and evaluated data from eight sites including 10 colleges and 21 high schools which generated a quality resource. Kindergarten through grade twelve (K–12) and college teachers and administrators may use these concepts, strategies and findings in dual enrollment classrooms, programs, schools and districts.
  • Effective Instruction for English Learners External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    Educational leaders may read this article about a comprehensive model of implementing high-quality instruction for ELs. Based on research, the authors provide detailed components that can be used in school reform, instructional planning, professional development, parent outreach, and monitoring outcomes.
  • Learning Hubs: In-Person Learning for the Whole ChildExternal link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
    In this brief, local policymakers, schools, and expanded learning partners will learn best practices for implementing the learning hub model. Included is guidance for the design and operations of learning hubs, and the policies that support the model.
  • The Lasting Benefits of Early College High Schools External link opens in new window or tab.
    American Institutes for Research has conducted a rigorous impact evaluation, and presented key findings from this work and indicates implications and gives recommendations for federal and state policymakers. Early Colleges offer students the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree or up to two years of college credits toward a bachelor’s degree in high school at no or low cost to the students.


Excerpted from California Department of Education's (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 United States 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 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: Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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