Addressing Inequities in Educational Reforms During COVID-19

K-12

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John Squires is the executive director of institutional research and effectiveness at Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland, TN.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the nation, its impact on all facets of society cannot be overstated. Schools and colleges continue to rethink delivery, scheduling, programs and funding. Furthermore, the ongoing crisis has made it difficult to ignore inequities in education systems.

Education Commission of the States recently released a three-part series that focuses on equity in education systems. This resource offers states an equity framework that incorporates the analysis of data, contextual history and implementation of targeted supports to improve outcomes for student populations traditionally underserved in education. Institutions and systems in both K-12 and higher education can use this series to examine current and future practices for addressing inequities in educational institutions.

Addressing the consequences of the coronavirus requires attention to its impact on student progress, and states can access key information from Education Trust to address immediate issues of equity.

Reform efforts traditionally implement selected practices, then use results from efforts to determine if disparities in student outcomes have been addressed. Historically, these steps do not rectify — and in many cases — exacerbate the impact of inequities.

In lieu of this approach, policymakers can use finely disaggregated data and contextual knowledge about marginalized populations to provide targeted supports for student groups, evaluate impact during implementation and then adjust reforms throughout the process based on data. Finely disaggregated data help identify student groups that are disproportionately affected in the system and are effective when coupled with an understanding of the historical context in which these learners have been marginalized.

Education officials implementing reform efforts who use data in conjunction with historical context may be better equipped to design and implement practices to meet the needs of historically underserved student populations.

Author profile
Director of Strong Start to Finish at Education Commission of the States | mroberts@ecs.org

As director of Strong Start to Finish, Maxine works with state leaders, researchers and technical assistance partners to address inequities in developmental education for students of color, students from lower-income communities and adults. Prior to joining Education Commission of the States, Maxine directed after-school and college-preparatory programs, worked with community college faculty to improve their course outcomes in developmental education, and studied the factors that foster success for students of color in community college developmental math courses.

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