Project: Year 7 2018–2019

Equity Dialogues: Increasing Opportunities to Improve Outcomes for Students

As states implement their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans, the Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) is focusing on building the knowledge and skills of agency staff to support implementation of equity strategies by local education agencies (LEAs). The SECC is providing technical assistance, facilitation, and training to support this process in the area of equitable access.

Technical Assistance Approach

The SECC is serving as a thought partner in assisting states in identifying strategies to support effective use of equitable practices with LEAs to improve implementation of ESSA plans.

Impact
  • Increased knowledge and skills in states to support implementation of ESSA plans in districts and schools 
  • Increased organizational structures and processes in states to identify gaps in services to LEAs to support equitable practices and continuous improvement processes

Project Updates

Most Recent Update: 2019 | June

On June 4, Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) state equity leaders took part in the Accountability Innovations for Equity webinar conversation. SECC staff moderated guest experts from Louisiana and Texas, who engaged participants in discussing a range of potential accountability innovations for advancing educational equity for students in traditional and alternative school settings. Additionally, on June 18, SECC staff met with equity leaders and other education leaders from the SECC states and spotlighted key accomplishments linked to the Equity Dialogues project during the SECC Annual Advisory Board Meeting. A collaborative invitational event sponsored by the SECC Accountability and Assessment Network and the Equity in Action Webinar series will take place in July. 

 

Previous Updates:

On June 4, Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) state equity leaders took part in the Accountability Innovations for Equity webinar conversation. SECC staff moderated guest experts from Louisiana and Texas, who engaged participants in discussing a range of potential accountability innovations for advancing educational equity for students in traditional and alternative school settings. Additionally, on June 18, SECC staff met with equity leaders and other education leaders from the SECC states and spotlighted key accomplishments linked to the Equity Dialogues project during the SECC Annual Advisory Board Meeting. A collaborative invitational event sponsored by the SECC Accountability and Assessment Network and the Equity in Action Webinar series will take place in July. 

On May 13, SECC state equity leaders took part in an invitational meeting sponsored by the Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) Assessment and Accountability Network. The conversation/webinar was on the topic of state report cards. An AIR guest expert engaged participants in a discussion on general report card information, use of state portals, information on dissemination, and how information is shared in various states across the nation. This event was a collaborative undertaking meant to prepare equity leaders for the second webinar in the SECC Equity in Action Series—Accountability Innovations for Equity. Equity leaders received invitations to take part in the June 4 Accountability Innovations for Equity webinar/conversation.

The Accountability Innovations for Equity webinar, featuring Robyn Madison-Harris (SECC at AIR), Jada Lewis (Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education), and Michele Stahl (Texas Education Agency), will take place June 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (CST). The presenters will discuss equity-focused innovations in state accountability systems in California, Texas, and Louisiana and will help leaders strategize to leverage the innovations identified to advance equity in their state accountability systems.

One of the SECC states recently requested equity conversation guides developed by one of the experts from the first webinar in the series. SECC is working with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at American Institutes for Research (AIR) to prepare the conversation guides for dissemination among equity leaders who attended the November 2018 SECC Equity Summit and who are engaged in the Equity Dialogues project.

On April 29, SECC kicked off the first in a series of Equity in Action webinars to provide consultation and guidance to states and districts to advance the continuation of their professional learning about equity, their equity planning process, the effective implementation of their plans, and ongoing capacity to foster educational equity. The webinar, Cultural Competence and Responsiveness, featured Dr. Karen Francis, interim director Diversity and Inclusion at AIR, and Dr. David Osher, vice president and institute fellow at AIR. The interactive webinar provided a range of insights for education stakeholders to develop cultural and linguistic competence as well as grasp the urgency for implementing culturally and linguistically responsive (CLR) practices and policies.

During May, Equity State Teams and other guest participants will take part in an invitational event sponsored by SECC’s Assessment and Accountability Network. The webinar will address state report cards and will be followed up by a June webinar on innovations in accountability.

As evidence of impact, a number of states indicated that they are utilizing the book, Creating Safe, Equitable, Engaging Schools: A Comprehensive Evidence-Based Approach to Supporting Students, which was made available to teams following the SECC Equity Summit (November 2018), to guide their equity work.

 

During March, SECC provided Equity Dialogues participants access to a photo essay that features reflections on images captured during the Civil Rights Learning Journey, to highlight connections between civil rights and equity in education. SECC also shared with participants, the first webinar in the DLRT Webinar Series, “Preparing a Diverse Teacher Workforce for Mississippi: A Multidimensional  Approach”:, and video teasers from the Equity Summit. In addition, Equity Team leads were provided a resource, The BDN BLAAC Book, developed by The BLAAC Diaspora Network (BDN) ERG at AIR.  The resource is designed to increase cultural competence, inform project work, technical assistance, and research, and to illuminate the experiences, achievements, and challenges of individual who identify as Black, Latino, African, African American, or Caribbean (BLAAC). The SECC team convened planning meetings with presenters for the upcoming Equity in Action Webinar. In April, SECC will offer participants access to two equity-focused videos from the Equity Summit and an invitation to an Equity in Action Webinar Series. On April 29, SECC will launch the Equity in Action Webinar Series. As evidence of impact, a number of states are using the geographic information system (GIS) mapping tool and continue to reach out with questions and requests to formalize their process for examining their equity contexts using GIS.

The Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) provided all state equity teams access to the SECC Times e-newsletter, which highlighted the SECC Equity Summit. In addition, select state teams (Mississippi and North Carolina) received resources pertinent to their expressed equity needs. Representatives of the Mississippi state equity team met virtually to take part in the Winter 2019 Mississippi State Equity Team working meeting. The team made updates to the preliminary equity plan. The team also took part in an orientation and deep data dive utilizing geographic information system mapping to clarify trends in social vulnerability, graduation rates, school performance, etc. Based on the experience, the team generated a set of next steps to advance the state’s equity work. Members of the North Carolina state equity team (representing Cumberland County) met virtually with SECC staff to discuss their ongoing plans and to develop ideas for coordinating their work to allow for systemic impact.

The North Carolina team is interested in hosting a local equity summit. As such, SECC is developing a guidebook to support North Carolina and other states wishing to host equity convenings. The North Carolina team also has requested a consultation with members of the Connecticut Department of Education, who are engaged in similar system-based work. SECC is planning for the upcoming webinar hosting Dr. David Osher, American Institutes for Research expert on social emotional learning (SEL) and equity.

Members of the Mississippi state equity team are expanding the team to allow for strategic communication and representation across the state. Hence, team members identified and nominated additional members to take part in the work. North Carolina is brainstorming ways to attract more highly effective teachers of color and is hosting a book study with principals. The book is Chris Emdin’s For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too.  In addition, North Carolina is planning to offer an intensive equity training for educators during Summer 2019.

During early January, the Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) disseminated a report from the Council on Chief School Offers titled, A Vision and Guidance for a Diverse and Learner-Ready Teacher Workforce, the first resource provided by a national collaborator at SECC’s Equity Summit. During late January, all summit participants received a personalized equity leadership certificate and the recently published AIR book, Creating Safe, Equitable, Engaging Schools: A Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Approach to Supporting Students. In addition, post-summit state meetings took place in support of the development and initial implementation of equity plans.

Within the next 2 months, SECC will host a webinar featuring Dr. David Osher’s book, Creating Safe, Equitable, Engaging Schools: A Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Approach to Supporting Students.

All but two participating states have shared their draft equity plans. Work to refine those plans is underway. State managers/liaisons representing each of the participating states took part in a geographic information systems (GIS) mapping tutorial during January and committed to using the strategies provided in their upcoming state equity team meetings. Discussions and summary notes about state equity team meetings revealed that teams are identifying additional data they need to examine to get at root causes and identify additional equity team members to ensure that they are able to appreciate identified equity issues from a range of perspectives, and, similarly, apply a variety of strategies as appropriate. As an example, teams are tapping the business, church, non-profit, policy-making, higher education, as well as Greek fraternity and sorority communities for support.

 

During early December, the Equity Dialogues Team leads disseminated “The Triple Whammy of Economic Disadvantage” paper by plenary speaker, Dr. James Johnson and nine questions to stimulate equity summit participants’ strategic thinking about disruptive demographics. In addition, the team disseminated a reminder to summit participants to complete the summit surveys. During mid- and late-December, state liaisons reviewed equity teams’ draft equity plans and, in some cases, convened a second meeting with state teams to advance the planning process. At the end of December, a second email was disseminated to offer participants access to the summit presentations and other event artifacts, including photos, presenter bios, and Day 1 and Day 2 surveys on the Equity Summit event site.

In January 2019, participants will each receive personalized equity leadership certificates and the recently published AIR book, Creating Safe, Equitable, Engaging Schools: A Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Approach to Supporting Students. In addition, post-summit state meetings will take place in support of the development and initial implementation of equity plans.

As evidence of impact, Equity Summit Day 1 and Day 2 surveys indicated a strong level of engagement, great satisfaction with the summit offerings, and participants’ clear commitment to advancing educational equity. Three of the seven participating states have requested guidance for planning and convening state-specific equity summits. As reflected in state equity draft plans, state teams have given substantial consideration to their state equity plans, and a number of the states have begun to leverage exiting equity initiatives to advance goals set during the state summit planning.

The Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) hosted an equity summit to meet the equity-related needs of the five states in the SECC region and other invited states. The participating states were Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Michigan. On November 25–28, SECC hosted 10 equity champions (including a state superintendent, an instructional review coach, a recruiter, and a director of secondary schools) in the Civil Rights Learning Journey and a number of other participants in alternate pre-summit activities such as the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians community tour, a historical tour of Jackson State University, and a tour of two Museums–the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History. Based on these pre-summit activities, participants investigated the local, immediate, and historic significance of various civil rights events and sites of discrimination and trauma to educational equity. On November the 29–30, participants took part in the SECC Equity Summit–Accountable Leadership: Opportunities for Equitable Leadership. Over 100 attendees, including state superintendents and their designees, district superintendents and other personnel, policymakers, as well as school and community members, engaged in plenary, concurrent, and strategy sessions to advance equity via their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans and other equity-related initiatives, plans, and policies.

State teams are set to convene virtually one state team at a time between December and January. During the initial meeting, each team will revisit and refine the Collection Ambition Equity Plan using the geographic information system (GIS) map of their states and the information it yields.

States were slow to identify five-member teams. In one case, the state was unavailable to participate due to an unanticipated mandatory meeting.

The Southeast Comprehensive Center (SECC) has invited state education agency (SEA) leadership in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina to participate in the SECC Equity Summit–Accountable Leadership: Opportunities for Equitable Systems and related pre-summit activities during late November 2018. They have been asked to identify state teams (consisting of two SEA representatives (with one of the two serving as a state equity champion), one local education agency (LEA) representative, one school-level representative, and one community representative) committed to examining their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans and other state plans to identify areas of need pertinent to equity. 

There are a number of pre-summit activities that will take place, November 25–28, 2018, to include the Civil Rights Learning Journey; Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians tour, Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Mississippi Museum of Art visit, historic site visit of Jackson State University campus, and a networking reception. The equity summit will take place on November 29–30, 2018, in Jackson, Mississippi.