Thinking about Equity and Diversity
Why is it important?
The student population in Nebraska is changing, with increasing student diversity each year. In October 2011, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) reported that statewide student enrollment was made up of 71 percent white students and 29 percent students of other races and ethnicities. In addition, the report noted that 43 percent of students live below the poverty line. Nearly seven percent of students speak a language other than English as their first language, and 15 percent of students receive special education services.
The goal of the NDE toolkit is to improve teaching and learning for all students. An effective school is an equitable school - one that provides high expectations and appropriate resources so that all students can achieve to the same rigorous proficiency standards. This means there must be minimal variance in performance among student groups, regardless of their socio-economic status, gender, race, ethnicity, language, culture, and disability.
The following beliefs about continuous improvement are infused within this equity and diversity section of the NDE toolkit:
- Continuous improvement is an ongoing process, not an event.
- Continuous improvement involves all staff in an ongoing conversation of equity and diversity.
- Continuous improvement includes ongoing professional development, using strategies such as study groups and professional learning communities.
- Equity and diversity are addressed throughout the continuous improvement process.
The final belief is key; therefore you will see equity and diversity questions asked and answered through each phase of the Continuous Improvement Process (CIP). Before you dig into the first phase of the process, you may want to review commonly used terms and definitions related to equity and diversity, located in Appendix A.
Development assistance provided by North Central Comprehensive Center.