Cultivating Educational Equity: Strategies for Administrators

Published on: June 24, 2024

Most schools, across all levels, are working toward achieving equity in education, and school administrators can play a powerful role in that process. Equity in education ensures that all students receive the support, resources and instruction that they require to succeed. This means that the experience provided may vary from one student to the next, based on their individual needs.

Developing and implementing the best strategies for equity in education can help you become a more aware and responsive leader in school.

Understanding Equity vs. Equality in Education

Initially, the terms equity and equality may seem interchangeable, but there are distinct differences between the two. While equality has been the priority in schools for many years, most educational administrators today are working toward achieving equity in education.

According to Parent Powered, equality in education refers to all students within a building or district receiving the exact same resources. Equity in education refers to differential support based on the individual needs of the students. Equitable teaching practices are often designed to address the needs of marginalized students, ensuring that they receive the instruction and support that they need to be successful.

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Anchored by the practice of differentiated instruction, culturally responsive teaching is a practice that educators can adopt in which they actively work to connect the material and content being discussed in class with the students’ backgrounds, heritage and experiences. Culturally responsive teaching helps empower students in the class, allows them to feel more confident and comfortable and allows educators to develop a better understanding of the individual needs of each student.

Establishing Inclusion in the Classroom

One of the first steps toward adopting culturally responsive teaching practices is to create an inclusive classroom environment. An inclusive classroom is one in which all students feel represented and respected, and in which students can work with others different from them to collaborate and share ideas. Inclusion involves showcasing different cultures, backgrounds, family lifestyles, relationships, gender expressions and religious beliefs.

Creating Relatable Content

Designing and utilizing relatable content can help you ensure that all students feel represented and respected in the classroom. For example, writing math story problems that feature places and names familiar to them will help students feel as if they are part of the educational experience. Relatable content helps you establish trust between you and your students.

Prioritizing Representation in the Classroom

At the end of the day, every student in your classroom should feel as if they are represented in the material that they learn and the resources they use. For instance, building a classroom or school library that prioritizes diversity in education will help you improve representation in your school. All students should have access to books that feature primary characters of all ages, lifestyles and backgrounds. This allows them to better relate to the content and feel more comfortable in their learning environment.

Social Justice in Education

Social justice efforts in education focus primarily on achieving both equity and equality in education. Over the course of history, and in modern times, many students do not have access to the instruction and resources they need to be successful. Social justice in education aims to remove barriers that prevent students from being successful, and to implement achievement gap solutions that help level the playing field for all students. This is regardless of their background or experiences.

Distributing Resources Fairly

An equitable and fair distribution of resources is crucial to closing the achievement gap in schools. To illustrate, students who reside in affluent areas are more likely to receive the most advanced educational resources, including up-to-date technology, books in good condition and extracurricular programming that covers a wide range of abilities and interests. On the other hand, students who reside in areas with less funding for schools do not have access to these same high-quality resources. Social justice efforts work to ensure that all students, regardless of the neighborhood that they live in or the school they attend, have resources available to them that allow them to enjoy a rigorous, well-rounded education.

Enacting Fair and Reasonable Disciplinary Action

Another social justice issue being addressed in education is fair and reasonable disciplinary action. Data shows that Black students are far more likely to get suspended than other students, particularly white students. These higher suspension rates decrease the amount of instruction time that students receive, ultimately putting them at a greater disadvantage in the classroom.

Closing the Achievement Gap

Achievement gaps in education exist between marginalized students and those who have access to the highest-quality materials and instruction. The achievement gap between Black students and white students has decreased slightly since the late 1990s. However, there are still significant strides that need to be made to achieve full equity in education.

The Importance of Evidence-Based Instruction

Evidence-based instruction is a key component to closing the achievement gap. Educators around the country are collecting data to better understand the needs of their students and identify areas in which they can improve equity in the classroom. Evidence-based instruction allows teachers and administrators to identify targeted interventions that can increase the performance of students.

Increasing Instructional Time

The bottom line is all students require significant time with their teachers to learn and fully understand the material being presented. Teachers can work with all students to increase instruction time by developing small group learning opportunities, where more focused instruction can be provided to students based on their individual needs.

How Professional Development Can Close the Achievement Gap

Ongoing professional development for teachers and administrators can provide educators with the latest data and trends in terms of the achievement that exists, both on a local and national level. Through these targeted development programs, educators can develop new skills and learn more about the latest strategies for closing the achievement gap.

Equity in Special Education

In addition to working to improve equity in all classrooms, as an administrator, you also must prioritize equity in special education. Students of varying needs and abilities deserve to have access to the materials, resources and interventions they need to feel included in the community and to enjoy a well-rounded educational experience.

Removing the Fences

Students in special education programs are often separated from mainstream classrooms. On the surface, this may seem like a form of differentiated instruction, as it allows students to be in a classroom setting with a teacher who specializes in special education and offers access to specific tools and resources that they may need to thrive. However, this can also make special education students feel as if they are separated from the community at large. This is why there is a conscious effort to remove the fences and barriers that exist between these two populations.

Increasing Opportunities for Voice and Choice in Education

One of the best ways to begin achieving equity in special education is to provide students in special education programs with the autonomy that they deserve. By giving students voice and choice in their education, you can begin to personalize the learning experience in a way that accommodates their learning style and allows them to be both comfortable and confident in the classroom environment.

Engaging With Families and Communities

Strengthening the partnerships that exist between families and the school community is another powerful way to achieve equity in education. By increasing family involvement in education, you can begin to provide all students with a multicultural education and promote diversity in schools. In addition, when parents and caregivers feel like a valued partner in their child’s education, they are more likely to provide the at-home support required for students to be as successful as possible in the classroom.

Strategies to Increase Family Involvement in Education

These are some of the best strategies that school administrators and educators can to increase family involvement in education:

  • Increasing communication efforts between school and home. Educators that use a variety of communication tools will be able to reach as many families as possible.
  • Providing opportunities for parents to become involved in the classroom or in the school community. This helps parents feel like they have a chance to make a valuable contribution.
  • Offering parents at-home resources that they can use to supplement and support their child’s education.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation is necessary to understand the impact of any measures being taken to improve equity and close the achievement gap. This often involves conducting regular assessments and evaluations, collecting data and analyzing the results. Through monitoring and evaluation efforts, teachers and administrators can collaborate to create adaptive strategies that address the unique needs of their student population. This ultimately allows them to take a tailored approach to improving equity in their schools.

Prioritize Equity in Education at Park University

At Park University, we offer an Educational Specialist in Educational Administration degree program that allows educators to explore the best leadership strategies in education, including culturally responsive teaching and achievement gap solutions. By combining practical skills with theoretical concepts, this advanced degree program prepares you for a career in school administration.

Request more information about our online degree programs today.

Park University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Park University is a private, non-profit, institution of higher learning since 1875.