Skip to main content
School House

School Transformation

School House Graphic

Whole school transformation requires a systemic and multifaceted approach to create high academic performance, safe school climates, and family, school, and community engagement in priority and focus schools. MAEC understands that each district and school is situated within a unique socio-political context that defines their needs, strengths, cultures, processes, and resources. We work with clients to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment and collaboratively develop an action plan grounded in data, shared targets, and the leveraging of human capital, expertise, and resources to close achievement and opportunity gaps in schools.


Community Resource Mapping

MAEC uses a strengths-based approach for asset mapping, since often the best solutions come from within the communities in which our districts/schools reside. These key stakeholders include districts, schools, communities, and families all who are seeking to increase student achievement. To this end, MAEC conducts community walks and community resource mapping to identify potential partners and allies for effective and efficient delivery of services. This process includes attention to alignment between district and school needs and priorities so together partners can build the social and human capital that will help students and staff thrive.

Comprehensive Needs Assessment

Beginning with a disaggregated data analysis of student achievement, student discipline, and school climate, MAEC is able to effectively determine client strengths and areas of need. This collaborative inquiry approach enables MAEC to examine multiple sources of data. Using a culturally responsive and equity framework, further creates opportunities to develop operational action plans to tackle complex challenges that pose barriers to gains in student achievement.

Culturally Responsive Family, School, and Community Engagement

A family is a child’s first teacher. When families’ partner with schools and community organizations, children thrive. To produce the best results for students, MAEC builds the capacity of families, educators, schools, and community organizations to collaborate, exchange ideas, and develop and implement policies and action plans. We build on the collaborative strengths of families, educators, and community members so they can each contribute to the development and success of diverse students.

Culturally Responsive Leadership

Leaders set the tone and expectations of any organization. They do this by responding effectively to the diverse communities that they serve, being asset-focused, and proactive problem solvers. Culturally responsive leadership technical assistance provides a multi-dimensional framework that builds capacity of educators who are culturally informed and highly skilled in culturally responsive practice.

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Culturally responsive pedagogy is a method and practice of teaching in which educators and providers build on the assets that their students and families bring into the classroom. As the populations of our students grow more diverse, staff must be better prepared to respond to their needs. This requires a greater understanding and knowledge of their students’ culture, strengths, and socio-political contexts. With this practice, schools can become hubs of learning focused on the well being of the students and families being served.

Policy & Procedural Reviews

In educational systems, policies and procedures often inform practice. However, some policies or procedures may have unintended consequences when implemented that serve to further silo organizational efforts to close opportunity gaps. To address this challenge, MAEC provides state departments, districts, schools, and organizations with policy and procedural reviews to ensure they are equitable, effective, and comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

Positive School Cultures and Climates

MAEC engages districts and schools in a review of school climate and disciplinary data in order to assess their strengths and areas of need. Students thrive when they are in schools that create: (1) Optimal conditions for learning; (2) Inclusive; (3) Honor the cultures of families and students; (4) Have common instructional and organizational targets; and (5)  Create a strong culture of belonging. Transformative schools also adapt multi-tiered systems of support and interventions to proactively meet the non-academic needs of students and build their self-efficacy, academic confidence, resiliency, and leadership skills to increase ownership for their learning.

Academic Parent Teacher Teams (APTT) Trainer-of-Trainers

Trained by APTT’s creator, Maria C. Paredes, MAEC offers APPT training to district staff and/or school clusters wishing to adopt this comprehensive FSCE model. This model includes strategies for sharing student data, establishing student goals, and providing families with activities to practice foundational skills with their children at home.  The APTT model incorporates three, 75- minute academic parent-teacher meetings, one 30 minute individual parent-teacher conference, and a library of at-home activities that are aligned with foundational skills student need to have to be at or above grade level.

Advancing Capacity as Culturally Proficient Leaders

This training series is designed to advance the capacity of district leadership to embed cultural proficiency into their roles as they support staff. MAEC collaborates with  clients to examine the systemic and structural roles of cultural proficiency in school district transformation. The trainings include  the following components: Cultural Proficiency Continuum, School Leader Identity Reflection, Multicultural Education – Cultural Influence on Perspective, Multiple Worlds Theory, Historical, Societal, and Political Contextualization, Cultural Responsive Leadership Norms, Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency, Building Positive School Culture and Climate, and Culture and Climate Self Study.

Culturally Responsive Discipline Models and Practice

Creating a positive school and classroom culture is essential to reducing disruptive behaviors that lead to referrals and suspensions.  Culturally Responsive Discipline Models and Practice guides educators through the exploration and analysis of discipline models, continuum of interventions and supports, and the creation of equity centered student codes of conduct. The trainings include the following components: School Climate and Culture, PBIS vs. CRPBIS, School Climate Survey Samples, Student Codes of Conduct Models, Root Cause Analysis, and Reducing Disproportionality.

Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning

This series of training is intended for school-based educators to explore the impact that identity and context have on teaching and learning; build an understanding of educational access, participation, and outcomes as they relate to issues of power and privilege; and apply new knowledge to begin planning for culturally responsive practice implementation. The trainings include the following components: Opportunity Gaps, Disproportionality, Exploring Personal Identity, Perceptions about Students and Learning, Structural Racism vs. Poverty, Cultural Context, Data Analysis and Decision-Making, and Asset-based Approach to Teaching and Learning.

Ensuring Educational Equity for English Learners

Under Title VI and Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, school districts are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, and national origin. This training highlights the requirements surrounding the provision of services for ELs with an emphasis on the identification, placement, provision of alternative program for ELs, access to challenging content, and assessment. In addition, the training addresses the legal rights of parents/guardians.

Entre Nosotros, Between Us: Transitions into Kindergarten: Trainer-of-Trainers

Entre Nosotros was developed as a trainer-of-trainers curriculum to prepare childcare providers, early childhood centers, preschools, and kindergarten educators with parent workshops aimed at easing the transition into kindergarten. The five two hour lessons cover topics such as: (1) Importance of family engagement in student success; (2) Tips for School Success, including explanation of cultural expectations for new immigrant parents; (3) Communication & Positive Discipline; (4) Home Support for Learning; and (5) Family Literacy & Celebration! This curriculum is available in English and Spanish.

Evolving as Culturally Responsive Educators

This training series is intended to advance participants’ growth as culturally competent educators and leaders. The trainings include the following components: Cultural Proficiency Continuum, School Educator Identity Reflection, Cultural Influence on Perspective, Habits of Mind, Elements of Cultural Identity, Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency, and Multicultural Education – Cultural Influence on Perspective.

Family Engagement in the Classroom

This teacher induction curriculum, co-created with the Flamboyan Foundation, is designed to give teachers the strategies and tools to help them engage families in their classrooms. Teachers receive example lessons, interactive homework, and tools to better understand, and bring into the classroom, student’s and family’s funds of knowledge. These skills help teachers create welcoming classrooms and establish positive relationships with families to build student success.

Paving the Way to College and Careers: Families and Schools Together

This progressive, 9th-12th grade curriculum, offers high school counselors with five, 1.5 hour lessons they can deliver to parents/students to help them get ready for college/careers. The lessons are structured to achieve five main goals: 1) Strengthen the parent/student relationship by providing a safe and structured space for dialogue; 2) Establish a strong connection between parents/students with their high school counselors; 3) Increase student/family knowledge of the academic and developmental milestones they will encounter in high school;  4) Develop skills and strategies necessary to be on track for a post-secondary education/career; and 5) Successfully complete a PSAT/PLAN, SAT/ACT, FAFSA, and college/technical education application or job application.

School Transformation Project

MAEC provides an urban school district in Delaware with a system-wide model for school transformation to reduce disproportionality in discipline. MAEC provides professional learning opportunities to build capacity for improving school culture and climate, increasing teacher-student engagement, decreasing referrals and suspensions, and increasing academic achievement. This school transformation model includes the implementation and monitoring of culturally responsive approaches to leadership, teaching, and discipline with the whole child at the center of data-driven decision making. The model is anchored in Culturally Responsive Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (CRPBIS) and Culturally Responsive Classroom Management (CRCM). Within the first two years of program implementation, the District implemented the following:

  • District and School-based Equity Teams
  • New Data Collection System (RAP)
  • New Student Code of Conduct
  • Revised Student Manual
  • Student Manual Implementation Monitoring (Equity in Action)
  • Decrease in referrals and suspensions at the elementary schools
  • District-wide Universal Screening
  • District-wide adoption of core positive interventions (CSD Pillars of CRPBS)

Post Image Achievement Gap

This piece, part of our Addressing Critical Equity Issues series, discusses the Achievement Gap and what will it take to successfully engage our Black and Latino students and eliminate the disparities in achievement.

Achievement Gap

The achievement gap between Black and Latino students and their White counterparts continues to persist. For example, between 1975 and 2008, lack and Latino students at ages nine and thirteen made gains in reading: in 1975, a little less than 50% of nine year old Black and Latino students scored at the lowest performance levels, while only 2% of nine year old Black students and 3% of nine year old Latino students scored at the highest levels of performance. By 2008, less than 33% of nine year old Black and Latino students scored at the lowest performance level, while approximately 10% of Black and Latino students scored at the highest performance levels. A similar trend of improvement in reading achievement was evident among Black and Latino thirteen year old students. The NAEP long‐term trend assessment in mathematics between 1978 and 2008 revealed even larger gains for both nice year old and thirteen year old Black and Latino students. Notwithstanding such gains in achievement, however, NAEP data on the achievement gap reveal a disconcerting pattern of what Boykin and Noguera refer to as relative stagnation (2011). For example, based on data cited in the NAEP, 2007, the 4th grade and 8th grade reading achievement gaps between Black and White students as well as Latino and White students were statistically the same as they were in 1998. Similarly, despite slight improvements in mathematics performance among Black students between 1996 and 2007, the Black‐ White and Latino‐White achievement gaps remained statistically the same. Data collected by NAEP over the last three decades reveals widening test score disparities in reading, mathematics and science among Black and Latino nine, thirteen and seventeen year olds. Such long term trend assessments speak to the multidimensional nature and complexities that are inherent to disparities in academic outcomes that tend to correspond to the race and class of the learners. What will it take to successfully engage our Black and Latino students and eliminate the disparities in achievement? According to James Banks, the culture of the school and the classroom is often incongruent with the culture of the home and community. When fundamental relationships between the school and home are lacking, the student’s efficacy for high levels of achievement is compromised. According to Chinwe Uwah, academic efficacy ……is influenced by students’ sense of belonging; i.e. the degree to which they perceive themselves to be welcomed, valued, and respected members of the school community. In Creating the Opportunity to Learn: Moving from Research to Practice to Close the Achievement Gap, Boykin and Noguera (2011) refer to a combination of inter‐related guiding functions that are needed to maximize opportunities for successful engagement. They include self‐efficacy, self‐regulated learning and incremental ability beliefs. In order to effectively cultivate these mindsets for optimal engagement, culturally responsive relationship‐building is needed; this in turn requires an understanding of the impact of culture on teaching and learning (Howard, 2011). Promising Practices Evidence‐Based Practices
  •  The Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) is a university‐wide effort initiated by the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) that focuses on academic research, public education, and innovative  outreach activities toward eliminating achievement gaps: http://www.
  •  PD 360, the leading on‐demand professional learning resource, is a web‐based library of research‐ based professional development programs. The programs are designed to empower teachers to access instant answers and individualized support. The program includes Using Data to Close the Achievement Gap and allows teachers and leaders to move through data training at their own pace:
  • All Means All – "What Is It About Me You Can’t Teach?" This program is designed for teachers of diverse learners. Eleanor Renee Rodriguez shows teachers how to reach every student by implementing 5 essential elements for student success. Each strategy discussed in the program is demonstrated by real teachers in real classrooms. This program is available in elementary and secondary editions:
  • Banks, James A. (2011). Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives. New York Teachers College Press
  •  Gay, Geneva (2010). Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory Research and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press
  •  Horsford, Sonya D. (2011). Learning in a Burning House. New York: Teachers College Press
  •  Howard, Gary (2006) We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools. New York: Teachers College Press
  •  Howard, Tyrone C. (2010). Why Race and Culture Matter in Schools: Closing the Achievement Gap in America’s Classrooms. Teachers College Press
  •  Jackson, Yvette, (2011). The Pedagogy of Confidence. New York: Teachers College Press.
  •  Nieto, Sonia (2010). The Light In Their Eyes: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities. New York: Teachers College Press.
  •  Miller, David (2011). Man‐Up: Recruiting and Retaining African American Male Mentors
  •  Moore, Wes O. (2010). The Other Wes Moore. New York: Random House
  •  Uwah, Chinwe J. , (2008). School belonging, educational aspirations, and academic efficacy among African American male high school students: implications for counselors. Professional School Counseling.
  • Weinstein, C., Curran, M. & Tomilson‐Clarke, S. (2003). Culturally responsive classroom management: Awareness into action. Theory into Practice, 42,269‐276

Download: Download Achievement Gap

Post Image Essential Approaches for Excellence & Sustainable School System Transformation

This journal by the Equity-Centered Capacity Building Network (ECCBN) addresses systems capacity building approaches that drive both equity and excellence. ECCBN’s mission is to increase the visibility and impact of capacity-building approaches that promote deep and sustainable school and system change. ECCBN is a cadre of national experts uniting their efforts to share resources and strategies. The Network:

  • Seeks to promote evidence-based approaches to equity, quality, cultural responsiveness and partnerships with students and communities;
  • Believes that system capacity-building methods that drive equity and excellence can overcome the most daunting challenges education, students and communities face; and
  • Has seen that students of color and those from families with modest means can excel academically, socially and personally when whole systems are transformed to focus on equity and excellence.
Read the journal online or download the PDF.


Post Image How the Common Core Must Ensure Equity by Fully Preparing Every Student for Postsecondary Success

MAEC's introduction to how the Common Core must ensure equity by fully preparing every student for postsecondary success: recommendations from the Regional Equity Assistance Centers on implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

How the Common Core Must Ensure Equity by Fully Preparing Every Student for Postsecondary  Success

The Common Core State Standard Initiative was launched in April 2009 with the goal of developing college – and career‐readiness standards. The internationally benchmarked K‐ 12 academic standards provide a clear,consistent definition of what students are expected to learn when they graduate from high school and be able to successfully enter postsecondary education and/or the workplace. By September 2012, 46 states and the District of Columbia had adopted the Common Core Standards (CCS). Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia are the only states that did not adopt the CCS, and Minnesota adopted only the English language arts and literacy standards. The ten Equity Assistance Centers support the effective implementation of the standards and see this initiative as an opportunity to finally ensure success for all students, regardless of their race, national origin, linguistic background, physical abilities, or economic status. However, in order to address the needs of all students a systemic and focused understanding of equity and its impact on student learning is imperative. The new standards demand more of students and teachers, and, as a result, states and school districts will need to provide specialized and intensive support to English language learners (ELLs), special education students, and other historically underserved and underrepresented special populations who are performing below grade level. The recommendations provided by the Equity Assistance Centers in the position paper, How the Common Core Must Ensure Equity by Fully Preparing Every Student for Postsecondary Success provide an analysis and a roadmap for the successful implementation of the CCS. Read: How the Common Core Must Ensure Equity by Fully Preparing Every Student for Postsecondary Success Equity Assistance Centers Support the Common Core State Standards The 10 regional Equity Assistance Centers (EACs) are committed to the successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards (Common Core). We believe that the development and adoption of these new standards represents a significant and vitally important step for our nation, and we enthusiastically support this effort to promote rigorous, high-quality education and positive outcomes for all students. The Common Core provide a clear, consistent definition of what students are expected to learn and what is needed to prepare all students for success in postsecondary college or career preparation and life in the 21st century. The EACs support effective implementation of the standards so that, as individual states and as a country, we may finally ensure success for all students, regardless of their race, national origin, linguistic background, physical abilities, or economic status. The establishment of the Common Core was a critical move in the right direction for K–12 education, reflecting a national priority to improve students’ readiness for college or career preparation. In guiding development of the new standards, the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers were specific about what they wanted. The English language arts standards, for example, were to be (1) research- and evidence-based, (2) aligned with college and work expectations, (3) rigorous, and (4) internationally benchmarked. 1 For their part, the mathematics standards were to be more focused, coherent, clear, and specific than past standards. Thus, for the math-standards developers, the work began with research-based learning progressions detailing what is currently known about how students’ mathematical knowledge, skill, and understanding develop over time.2 Today, 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the new standards. Given this broad acceptance of the new, more rigorous standards, the Common Core have great potential for preparing all students to meet the century’s challenges. Yet this promise can only be realized if the standards are implemented with a sharp and consistent focus on  ensuring education equity. Important as it is to provide a more rigorous education, greater The Equity Assistance Centers 2 The Equity Assistance Centers How the Common Core Must Ensure Equity by Fully Preparing Every Student for Postsecondary Success rigor alone does nothing to address the underlying causes of our longstanding achievement gaps. In fact, because the new standards demand more of students and teachers alike, if the Common Core are implemented without adequate supports for all students, and for those serving them, the inequities long inherent in American education will persist and deepen, with greater numbers of our most vulnerable students pushed into failure. To ensure that, as intended, these new standards result in an excellent education and equally high outcomes for all students, educators and our education institutions must themselves be prepared and supported to intervene successfully with students who are performing well below grade level; to understand and be able to provide the full range of support needed for students who are English language learners (ELLs), special education students, and other historically underserved and underrepresented student populations; and to offer high-quality instruction across the board, along with academic supports, social-emotional support, and college and career technical counseling. In short, the positive potential of these new standards can only be realized if state and local policymakers, education leaders, and  practitioners view equity as both an essential means to and an essential outcome of Common Core implementation. During implementation, they must carefully examine and evaluate existing and proposed systems, policies, procedures, and practices to understand their impact on all student groups, especially those that have heretofore been underserved and underrepresented in the statistics for successful students. Almost 60 years after Brown vs. the Board of Education, we are still struggling to ensure the civil rights and equitable education of all students—a sad fact that underscores the urgency of implementing the Common Core in such a way as to serve all students equally well. In this document, the EACs provide key questions and recommendations to help educators identify and address equity issues to ensure that no student is denied the opportunities promised by these new standards. THE EQUITY LENS AND EQUITY CONTEXT Adoption and implementation of the Common Core comes at a critical time in our nation’s education history. In 2005, when the Commom Core initiative began, it was clear that not enough students—particularly students of color, ELL students, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, students in inner cities and rural areas, and those in alternative schools—were graduating from high school prepared for success, either in postsecondary education or career-development programs. Clearly, traditional ways of conducting the business of education have not been effective for many students. Concerted efforts to ensure students’ civil rights and education equity have been underway since the mid-20th century, and have been mapped into the following six “generations.” 3 1954–1964 (first generation)—Litigation shaped civil rights, including education, starting with Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. 1964–1983 (second generation)—Legislation redefined the civil rights landscape and education, starting with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 3 The Equity Assistance Centers How the Common Core Must Ensure Equity by Fully Preparing Every Student for Postsecondary Success 1983–1990 (third generation)—State-driven reform efforts refocused the civil rights conversation on issues beyond access, starting with the report, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. 1990–2000 (fourth generation)—State and national government reform efforts focused on how public education should support excellence for all, starting with the 1994 National Governors Association meeting on education challenging the country to look forward to the new century. 2001–2011 (fifth generation)—This generation was characterized by national discourse on educational and civil rights and by passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, which required public schools to be accountable for disaggregated student-achievement outcomes. 2012–present (sixth generation)—The current generation started with the Obama administration’s Blueprint for Reform, outlining the re-envisioned federal role in education,4 and with adoption of the Common Core. It is being shaped by a focus on increased curricular rigor, on ensuring that students graduate from high school ready for success in college or postsecondary job training, and on effective leadership and quality teaching to ensure that students are successful. We have entered the sixth generation facing many challenges. Chief among them are the persistent achievement gaps between different ethnic and economic groups; ongoing disproportionality in the student groups represented in special education, in gifted and talented programs, and in disciplinary categories; unacceptable school dropout rates; and continued low college-going and college-completion rates for students of color, ELL students, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students. If the Common Core are to achieve their promise of success for all students, they must be implemented in ways that can directly address and resolve these critical issues. The kind of high-quality education envisioned in the Common Core cannot remain a privilege reserved for only some students; it is an absolute requirement for all students. But are we up to the challenges? According to the Equity and Excellence Commission in its recent report, resolving this nation’s achievement gaps is “eminently doable” because the Common Core provide “a unique moment to leverage excellence and equity for all and to build on efforts to foster critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity and innovation, and communication.”5 Thus, it is the hope—indeed the expectation—of the EACs that this new generation will see real and measurable improvements in opportunities and outcomes for underserved and underrepresented students. The EACs have the unique charge of ensuring students’ civil rights, by providing assistance at every level of education, from federal and state to district and school. We believe that realizing the full potential of the Common Core requires that education decision-makers and practitioners use an equity lens as the optic through which all implementation-related decisions are filtered and analyzed, with the aim of making equity-oriented decisions. More specifically, educators and decision-makers at all levels of the educational enterprise should, at a minimum, examine their systems, policies, procedures, and practices using the following questions:
  • How does this (system/policy/procedure/practice) affect all learners?
  • Can we identify negative or adverse consequences for any identifiable population as a result of this system, policy, procedure, and practice? How might that adverse impact be avoided?
  • As we create new systems, policies, procedures, and practices, what precautions should we take to avoid negative consequences?
  •  How do we monitor our work and ensure equally positive outcomes for all students?
  • How do we change our systems, policies, procedures, and practices to produce fair and equitable outcomes for students and their families?
  • How do we engage students, families, and communities in meaningful ways and as partners in decision-making and implementation of the Common Core?
When these questions are used consistently as a lens for decision-making, the cumulative Common Core implementation decisions should yield an equity context, in which all systems and structures work to ensure that no learner is denied the fair and equitable benefit afforded to all other students, regardless of the learner’s race, gender, national origin, linguistic background, economic level, or physical ability. SIX GOALS OF EDUCATION So what does an equity context look like? Six goals of education equity have been identified 6  and endorsed by the EACs, which, if fully achieved in implementation of the Common Core, would result in an equity context:
  • Comparably high academic achievement and other positive outcomes for all students on all achievement indicators
  • Equitable access and inclusion
  • Equitable treatment
  • Equitable resource distribution
  • Equitable opportunity to learn
  • Shared accountability
These six areas are not discrete; inequities in one area often are linked to inequities in other areas. Over time, accumulated education inequities across these areas create what Gloria Ladson-Billings refers to as an “educational debt” owed to those who have been denied access to quality education.7 If these six goals are not met in Common Core implementation, the new standards will only add to the educational debt, as reflected in widening achievement gaps and in even fewer students graduating from high school ready to succeed in postsecondary schooling or career preparation. Thus, the EACs assert that these six goals are, in fact, the goals of Common Core implementation to ensure all students’ readiness for college and career preparation. Goal 1: Ensure comparable positive outcomes for all students on all achievement indicators The U.S. Department of Education describes achievement gaps as “the difference in academic performance between subgroups of students and their peers.”8 These persistent and pernicious gaps are the ultimate testament to the failure on the part of many of our education systems, policies, procedures, and practices to equitably serve the full range of students. This first, overarching equity goal is to eliminate those gaps in favor of comparable positive outcomes for all students. Although the Common Core mission does not explicitly address this issue of achieving equally, or comparably, positive education outcomes, it certainly paints an inclusive picture of what “our young people” need for postsecondary success: The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.9 Fulfilling the Common Core mission demands that we eliminate achievement gaps. Ultimately, education equity means that every American student will attain high academic outcomes, with achievement and performance gaps virtually nonexistent.10 At any level, (state, district, school, or classroom) disaggregated test scores, attendance data, promotion and graduation rates, and all other student outcomes should reveal comparable high performance for all student populations. Goal 2: Ensure equitable access to education services and inclusion for all students Despite numerous laws, regulations, and guidance intended to help ensure students’ rights to have access to and be included in education programs, there is strong evidence that disproportionality along the color line continues to be a major problem across the country. Disproportionality, which refers to the under- and overrepresentation of students in a particular program, is not limited to special education or gifted and talented programs. Over- and underrepresentation is also found in other programs; both school-based and extracurricular opportunities; scholarships; courses and other curricular offerings; and supports, such as comprehensive counseling programs.11 Disproportionality is also evident in the use of certain disciplinary measures, such as the comparatively higher use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for African American and Latino student populations. Educators must review and revise current systems, policies, procedures, and practices for identifying and selecting students to participate in education programs. All students and their parents must have access to information to make knowledgeable decisions about students’ programs of study. Specifically, improving equity requires removing barriers to high-level courses as well as providing extra instructional time in English language arts and math for struggling students and those who arrive at school lagging their peers academically. Additionally, educators must ensure that the use of grade-point averages or test scores as filters for program access does not create barriers that prohibit underrepresented and underserved students from participating in instructional and extracurricular programs. Over time, the combined impact of disproportionality, barriers to opportunities, lack of information, and lack of support creates a cumulative adverse impact on students of color and other underserved student populations that is reflected in achievement gaps. Unless the education community recognizes and resolves these challenges, it will be impossible for many students to be successful with the Common Core. Significant work is being conducted on instructional supports for ELL students, in particular how to help them benefit from the Common Core. In their overview paper for a recent conference to launch the new Understanding Language Initiative in Stanford University’s School of Education,12 conference co-chairs Kenji Hakuta and Maria Santos note that “English language learners have a right to appropriate education that is grounded in sound theory and implemented in ways that address their needs systematically, through coordinated support linking teachers, materials, formative assessments, tests and accountability systems, and technology.”13 The EACs agree with this statement and applaud the work that Hakuta and Santos are leading. We further argue that every student has a right to the kind of education described by Hakuta and Santos, and we challenge the education community, in implementing the Common Core, to consider how best to address the needs of all underserved and underrepresented student populations. Goal 3: Ensure equitable treatment for all students We define equitable treatment as patterns of interaction between all individuals within an environment that are characterized by acceptance, respect, support, and safety. Students should feel challenged to become invested in the pursuits of learning and excellence without fear of threat, humiliation, or danger, all of which undermine students’ ability to succeed. Inequitable treatment of students can also compound negative consequences. For example, the disproportionate use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions contribute to higher absentee rates for African American and Latino student populations, and high absenteeism is a key contributor to academic failure and even to students’ decisions to drop out.14 Educators must examine the affect of their systems, policies, procedures, and practices on all students and their parents. For example, systems that serve ELL students but do not provide these students and their parents with critical information in any language other than English are clearly, if unintentionally, imposing barriers to the success of these students and the involvement of their families. Additionally, while algebra and geometry are critical “gatekeeper” courses for upper-level secondary mathematics and science coursework and college entrance, a frequent practice in many districts is to steer struggling students into courses that “dumb down” the mathematics content. Moreover, such courses lead nowhere, leaving students unprepared to pursue postsecondary education. The Common Core have increased the rigor in elementary and secondary mathematics and, if the promise of these standards is to be realized, educators must give all students equitable access to this content by providing instructional supports (e.g., scaffolding) when necessary. Without such supports we virtually guarantee that many students will not succeed in algebra and geometry; as a result, they will be denied access to higher-level secondary math courses such as calculus, to science courses, and ultimately to college. Goal 4: Ensure equitable resource distribution At this time, there are cumulative inequities in the distribution of essential education resources. Such resources include, for example, a rigorous curriculum, high-quality instructional materials, personalized attention for students, enrichment opportunities, and, most important, expert teachers. Because the Common Core demand more of teachers and students alike, the standards have prompted much discussion among policymakers and educators across the country about improving the quality of teachers. However, much less attention is being paid to improving the  distribution of expert teachers. The research shows that compared to low-poverty schools, high-poverty schools, on average, have more teachers with less experience and fewer advanced degrees. This means that with more experienced, better educated, and, ultimately,more expensive teachers gravitating toward affluent schools, districts are spending more on schools in affluent areas. In addition to having effective teachers, all students should have access to quality administrators, counselors, and other support staff. In collective bargaining states and districts, school boards, administrators, and unions should work together to ensure that the students most in need have access to high-quality teachers, administrators, and support staff. To identify and resolve inequities, districts must carefully examine and compare what they spend on teacher salaries and other non-teacher-related expenditures in high-poverty, high-minority schools  versus what they spend in lower-poverty schools with smaller populations of minority students. The “digital divide” represents a key resource inequity for many communities. The assessments being developed by PARCC15 and Smarter Balanced16 to align with the Common Core include accommodations for students with disabilities. However, many communities have limited or no access to computers and other technologies, or have inadequate technology. Educators must provide access to high-quality technology for those communities, including technology-support staff, and must ensure that continued advances in the use of technology in education do not create or contribute to even greater divides between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” In addition to the limitations on computers and other technology, high-poverty schools tend to have inadequate libraries, outdated instructional materials, fewer supplies, inadequate laboratories, insufficient equipment (e.g., in science labs), and fewer enrichment opportunities for students. Too often students are excluded from participation in education opportunities and successes due to costs. For example, even if a school has a band or orchestra, participation requires that students have musical instruments and have received instruction on how to play them. At one time, schools provided such opportunities (both instruments and instruction), but in many schools today, most especially those in low-income communities, tight budgets have pushed music, art, and other “enrichment” classes out, so that the only students with access are those with sufficient private means. Finally, fiscal inequities must be addressed if we are to successfully implement the Common Core. Resources should be reallocated to provide professional development and ongoing coaching for teachers and other professionals, as well as academic and other supports for students. The allocation of discretionary and other funds must reduce, and not contribute to, inequities. Goal 5: Ensure equitable opportunities to learn for all students The kinds of resources discussed above are essential but not sufficient for student learning. Opportunities to learn (OTL) refer to the sum total of what is needed to guarantee student learning. So while OTL include requisite resources, such as books and other materials, they also include effective instructional practices and conditions conducive to learning, such as a safe and supportive school climate. In their seminal 1993 article on the topic of OTL, Smith and O’Day write, “It is not legitimate to hold students accountable unless they have been given the opportunity to learn the material on the examination. Similarly, teachers or schools cannot be legitimately held accountable for how well their students do unless they have the preparation and resources to provide the students the opportunity to learn.”17 Educators at every level—state, district, school, classroom—must assess the adequacy, quality,and equity of students’ opportunities to learn by asking whether their systems, policies, procedures, and/or practices
  • enable all students to learn rigorous content,
  • enable all students to achieve at high levels,
  • consider the diverse, multiple ways in which students learn,
  • enable all teachers to teach all students,
  • reflect the best classroom practice and research,
  • support ongoing professional development of educators,
  • ensure safe and secure environments, free of prejudice and violence,
  • provide every student access to the most current education technology, updated libraries, and well-equipped science labs,
  • provide students with career exposure and work-based experience, and
  • offer opportunities for preschool and learning outside the school walls.18
Improving and ensuring equitable OTL for all students requires a related focus on the administrators, teachers, and staff who serve them. As implementation of the Common Core continues, states and districts must ensure that all those serving students have access to ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded professional development for teachers, instructional leaders, and others that includes coaching and feedback on all aspects of the Common Core. Preparation for all teachers must focus on increasing their ability to effectively reach and teach any student, differentiating instruction and supports to sufficiently meet their needs. America’s commitment to high-quality education for all students is realized when students have equitable opportunities to learn. States, districts, and schools that provide equitable opportunities to learn the content addressed in the Common Core will enable students to become lifelong learners and lead productive, rewarding lives. Goal 6: Ensure equitable shared accountability Equitable shared accountability refers to shared responsibility and accountability across all education stakeholders for ensuring that appropriate and sufficient resources, qualified teachers, challenging curricula, opportunities to learn, and sufficient supports are available for every student. Blaming students for not being able to handle a rigorous curriculum, or asserting that some students will never be competent at a world-class level, is unacceptable and runs counter both to the vision underlying the Common Core and to the U.S. Department of Education’s stance concerning education equity for all. Equitable shared accountability means that all stakeholders—school boards, administrators, teachers, and other staff—take responsibility and are held accountable for all students, including those students who are not succeeding. For example, school boards, and those who elect them, must ensure that their local schools are adequately supported. Administrators establish the vision and set expectations for equitable student outcomes so that everyone understands his or her responsibility for ensuring that all students achieve. Administrators also establish a variety of support structures to ensure the capacity of all stakeholders to meet their responsibilities. Teachers and other staff participate in planning and goal setting that focuses on equitable student outcomes, and identify and implement the strategies that are needed to reach them.19 Because equitable shared accountability is essential to the successful implementation of the Common Core, educators at every level must take responsibility for equitable, positive academic outcomes for all students.


An effective education that prepares our youth for postsecondary success should not be a privilege reserved for some students; rather, it should be a guarantee for every student. The Common Core promise just that—a quality education for all, one in which the new standards will be taught by highly qualified teachers under the leadership of skilled administrators, and students will receive adequate and appropriate supports to help ensure their success. If the Common Core promise is to be fulfilled, all educators and education stakeholders must commit to excellence and equity, because excellence cannot be achieved without equity. The Common Core must be implemented with the intention of ensuring that every student receives the instruction necessary to produce the desired learning outcomes. We have a moral imperative to implement the Common Core in a way that embraces and supports those who have been underserved by the education system in the past, so that every studentachieves to his or her highest potential. It is only fair, just, and right that every student be provided a rigorous curriculum and high-quality instruction regardless of race, gender, national origin, linguistic background, economic level, physical ability or any other defining characteristic. It is time for us to move forward on these matters of excellence and equity. The promise of the Common Core must be realized for all students and their families.


The following recommendations are made with the intent of helping educators meet the six goals of equity to ensure that every student is equally well served by the Common Core. By every student, we particularly include those who traditionally have been underserved by our education systems and underrepresented in positive outcomes, including students of color, ELL students, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students.
  1. First and foremost, begin implementation of the Common Core with the end in mind:high achievement for all student populations.
  2.  Eliminate the concept of “significant subgroups” because all student populations are significant. Use disaggregated data to monitor for student progress and equity in achievement and other student outcomes, attending to all population subgroups.
  3.  Prepare and support administrators to effectively lead Common Core implementation so that all students have comparably high academic achievement and positive outcomes on all achievement indicators.
  4. Create and provide appropriate professional development approaches to properly prepare all teachers, including core content teachers, to teach all students in a culturally appropriate and proficient manner.
  5. Create and provide appropriate professional development for school counselors so they are able to provide appropriate and culturally responsive guidance and support for all students.
  6. Rethink tiered systems of interventions to accommodate implementation of the Common Core. Provide appropriate professional development to teachers to implement tiered systems with fidelity and responsiveness to the real learning characteristics of the individual students in those systems.
  7.  Inform all parents and families about the Common Core and equip them to contribute to their children’s success with the more rigorous curricula called for by the Common Core. In particular, empower the parents and families of students who have been traditionally underserved and underrepresented, creating a place for their voice and engagement in all aspects of their children’s education experience.
  8.  Improve access to academic counseling for all students, especially struggling students, and their families.
  9.  Provide students with the necessary, personalized academic and social supports, building their awareness of college and understanding of career pathways.
  10. Extend responsibility for student success to all stakeholders, including school boards,educators at every level, parents, and students.
  1. Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. Retrieved from
  2. Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Retrieved from
  3.  Scott, B. (2012, September). The challenge of seeing—Shaping the sixth generation of civil rights and educational equity. IDRA Newsletter. Retrieved from
  4. U.S. Department of Education. Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. (2010). A blueprint for reform: The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Washington, DC: Author, p. 2.
  5.  The Equity and Excellence Commission. (2013). For each and every child – A strategy for education equity and excellence. Washington, DC: Author, p. 15.
  6.  Scott, B. (2002, May). Who’s responsible, who’s to blame? IDRA Newsletter. Retrieved from Who%27s_Responsible%2C_Who%27s_to_Blame?/
  7.  Ladson-Billings, G. (2006, October). From the achievement gap to the education debt: Understanding achievement in U.S. schools. Educational Researcher, 35(7), 3–12.
  8.  U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.). Continuing to expose and close achievement gaps.Retrieved from
  9.  Common Core State Standards Initiative. (n.d.). Mission statement. Retrieved from
  10.  Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA). (n.d.). Six goals of education equity.San Antonio, TX: Author. Retrieved from
  11. The Equity Assistance Center Network. (2008). Response to Intervention: An equity perspective. The Equity Assistance Centers identify civil rights concerns with the implementation of Response to Intervention. San Antonio, TX: South Central Collaborative for Equity,Intercultural Development Research Association. Retrieved from
  12.  Stanford University. (n.d.). Understanding language: Language, literacy, and learning in the content areas. Retrieved from
  13. Hakuta, K., & Santos, M. (2012). Understanding language: Challenges and opportunities for language learning in the context of Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards [Conference Overview Paper], p. 2. Stanford, CA: Stanford University. Retrieved  from
  14. Losen, D. J., & Martinez, T. E. (2013). Out of school and off track: The overuse of suspensions in American middle and high schools. The Center for Civil Rights Remedies, The Civil Rights Project, University of California, Los Angeles.
  15. Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). (n.d.). PARCC accessibility accommodations and fairness. Retrieved from
  16. Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. (n.d.). Support for under-represented students. Retrieved from
  17. Smith, M., & O’Day, J. (1993). Systemic reform and educational opportunity. In S. Fuhrman (Ed.), Designing coherent education policy: Improving the system. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, p. 272.
  18. Drawn largely from Goals 2000: Educate America Act (archived). Retrieved from
  19. Ragland, M. A., Asera, R., & Johnson, J. F., Jr. (1999). Urgency, responsibility, efficacy: Preliminary findings of a study of high-performing Texas school districts. The Charles A. Dana Center, University of Texas at Austin.

Download: How the Common Core Must Ensure Equity by Fully Preparing Every Student for Postsecondary Success

Post Image Socioeconomic Integration and Student Achievement

Students thrive when they learn in both culturally and economically diverse environments. Is your district struggling with segregation issues that undermine the achievement of your students? This webinar is intended for all educators who want to learn about transforming their schools into socially inclusive learning environments by embracing socioeconomic integration. Hear about schools and districts that have been successful, and learn about CEE’s vision to boost student achievement by applying an equity perspective to this process. Learning Outcomes In this webinar you will learn:

  • why socioeconomic integration has worked in specific districts and how you can apply those principles to your school or district, and
  • how to build learning communities where culture, language, and economic diversity is celebrated and expands learning.
Presenters Download   Video of Socioeconomic Integration and Student Achievement from MAEC.    

Join Our Mailing List

Receive monthly updates on news and events. Learn about best practices. Be the first to hear about our next free webinar!