Back to School in the Era of COVID-19: Uncertainties, Complexities, and Emerging Plans

Defining & Measuring Equity

This set of readings provides a starting point to a conversation about what equity means and what indicators school, district, and state leaders should use to measure it.

**National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2019). Summary. In Monitoring educational equity (pp. 1–12). Available at

**National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2019). Why indicators of educational equity are needed. In Monitoring educational equity (pp. 13–28). Available at

We have included the summary chapter and Chapter 1 of the book Monitoring Educational Equity, developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on Developing Indicators of Educational Equity. The summary chapter highlights the committee’s conclusions about why equity is important, the indicators (organized by domains) the committee recommends, and other actions needed to ensure that student demographics do not correlate with their performance. Chapter 1 lays a case for why equity matters, what an indicator is, and what makes equity indicators different than other measures of educational progress (e.g., measuring differences in graduation rates versus graduation rates alone). The report also shares the definitions that the committee established for equity and other related terms, including how equity and equality are different from one another. The chapter closes by outlining the organization of the book, including why indicators to measure equity are needed, what those indicators should be, and recommendations for implementing an equity indicator system.

Gutiérrez, R. (2009). Framing equity: Helping students “play the game” and “change the game.” Teaching for Excellence and Equity In Mathematics, 1(1), 5–7. Available at

Using the lens of mathematics instruction, the author argues that efforts to achieve equity in the classroom require attention to four key dimensions: access, achievement, identity, and power. Access encompasses students’ resources (or lack thereof), such as high-quality teachers, materials, curriculum, and funding. Achievement is focused on performance outcomes and whether all students are succeeding in their mastery of academic content. Identity addresses whether the content is being taught in culturally relevant and responsive ways so that students see themselves in the material. Power relates to student opportunities to be critical of their societies and question systems that limit their access to power. In her experience as a math education researcher, the author has seen many teachers incorporate one or more components in their instruction but asserts that all four are essential to resolving equity issues in mathematics.

The Education Trust–West. (2019). Educational equity services. Available at

The Education Trust-West (ETW) equity audit is an example of keeping equity central to the process of planning within a district. ETW partners with school districts to conduct educational equity audits, a two-phase research and facilitation process to help districts identify the systemic barriers that limit students’ success and develop action plans for change. In the first phase, ETW culls data from focus groups, public forums, site visits, transcript analysis, stakeholder surveys, and community meetings to answer questions about achievement and opportunity gaps, quality of teaching and instruction, professional development, supports and interventions, resource equity, and family and community engagements. Findings are then compiled into a district Equity Audit Report. In the second phase, a working committee of teachers, counselors, administrators, and other key stakeholders uses root cause analysis, constructive problem-solving, and facilitation to develop the Blueprint for Equity Action Plan, which provides recommendations to the superintendent and the school board.

The Aspen Institute. (2016). Glossary for understanding the dismantling structural racism/promoting racial equity analysis. Available at

The Aspen Institute developed this glossary of terms related to racial equity for leaders to better understand and be better equipped to dismantle structural racism. Examples include delineating the differences between individual racism (racism enacted towards a specific person) and institutional racism (policies and practices that support racism against groups of people), and between ethnicity (a group of people who share cultural traditions and practices) and race (a set of observable and usually physical features associated with particular demographic groups

**This document is considered a priority reading.