Education Week - June 1, 2016 - (Page 16)

BEYOND BIAS Countering Stereotypes in School Oregon Creates a 'Lens' for Viewing Educational Equity Document is meant to frame schools' thinking on bias By Denisa R. Superville NashCO for Education Week With children of color making up a growing share of Oregon students, state education officials five years ago took another hard, long look at how those students were doing. What they saw was sobering but not surprising: Despite attempts to close achievement gaps between students of color, immigrant students, and low-income students and their more affluent white peers, wide disparities persisted in student performance on state tests, graduation rates, school attendance, and college-going rates. So Oregon tried a different approach. In 2011, education agencies adopted an "equity lens," a publicpolicy statement explicitly acknowledging the salience of race and ethnicity in contributing to disparate student outcomes and committing to narrow achievement and opportunity gaps from cradle to career through a focus on race and ethnicity. Envisioned as a kind of "guiding document" to focus discussion and action on achievement gaps within the state and between Oregon and other states, the equity lens was unusual for its time. It lays out a set of beliefs that sees students' second language as an "asset" to be celebrated and advocates culturally responsive supports for Englishlanguage learners and embracing students' history. The lens also calls for addressing the overrepresentation of children of color in special education and their underrepresentation in Advanced Placement and gifted and talented programs. Recognizing that achievement gaps begin early in life, the policy also emphasizes access to high-quality prekindergarten. It seeks to ensure that teachers are focused on equity and it expects educators to think deeply before making major decisions about who will be disadvantaged by those decisions, whether those stakeholders were included in the process, and if not, why. "We needed to make sure that we had diverse opinions and thinking that would advantage all kids, not just my kids," said Robert Saxton, a former deputy su- perintendent of public instruction at the Oregon education department when the "equity lens" was adopted. Now, the state is still struggling to close achievement gaps and the equity lens is seen as a very-muchalive educational equity tool in that state, say those involved in its creation. Expanding Infrastructure The new lens built on other state equity initiatives that were already underway, said Pat Burk, an education professor at Portland State University, who has also held leadership positions in the Portland public schools and the state education department. Those efforts included: * Development of tests aimed at providing finegrained data on how students were doing on specific test items. * A review of state educator-licensing standards that led to changes to integrate cultural competency and equitable practices into teacher- and administrator-preparation programs. * Partnering with the state's four largest districts to work on their equity and diversity challenges. Because of those actions, an infrastructure was already in place in some districts by 2011 to put the policies into practice. As a result, some districts were able to continue to focus on equity even as state financial contributions toward district-level equity work diminished during the Great Recession, Burk said. At the state level, education officials use the equity lens as a criteria for disbursing grants. Districts seeking grants must show that their programs would address achievement gaps. The state education agency Students Leslie Lopez, center, and Yaritsa Velasco take a Spanish language and literature class geared to native speakers at the Academy of International Studies at Woodburn High School in Oregon. The classes are one of several strategies the district uses to boost the graduation rate of its Hispanic students. PAGE 18 > 1 4 6 Asian 2 American Indian/ Alaska Native Black 92% 0.7 OREGON SCHOOLS: A DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander Multiracial As the state's student population grows more diverse, the teaching force remains largely white, despite state and school district efforts to put more teachers of color in schools. 64% 22 63% Hispanic White 22 2 White OREGON STUDENT ENROLLMENT 2015 -16 SOURCE: Oregon Department of Education 16 | EDUCATION WEEK | June 1, 2016 | 4 .6 Black Hispanic 4 Asian 2 .7 .2 2 5 .6 Native Hawaiian/ American Indian/ Pacific Islander Alaska Native 2 Multiracial RACE AND ETHNICITY OF OREGON STUDENTS AND TEACHERS 2014-15 SOURCE: 2015 Oregon Educator Equity Report Students Teachers

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - June 1, 2016

Education Week - June 1, 2016
In Special Education, A Debate on Bias
Proposed ESSA Rules Aim to Strike Balance
Civil Rights Office Gets Aggressive
Charter Movement Fuels Boom For Public Montessori Schools
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Transgender Debate: What’s Next?
Free Website Expands on EngageNY’s Mission
Study on Teacher Test Finds Mixed Results
Blogs of the Week
Digital Learning Games Breaking Into K-12 Mainstream
Girls Outperform Boys on First National Test of Tech, Engineering
Oregon Creates a ‘Lens’ for Viewing Educational Equity
High School Takes Cue From Montessori
School Finance Suits: More Than Just a Legal Roll of the Dice?
Report Feeds Into Debate Over Racial, Economic Inequities
Blogs of the Week
Policing Girls of Color in School
The Plight of Black Girls in K-12 Schools
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Black Girls, Discipline, and Schools

Education Week - June 1, 2016