Equity Indicators

In early 2022, Education First completed a comprehensive landscape scan examining all states’ collection and use of “equity indicators”— measures of various student outcomes and learning conditions that can help policymakers and education leaders understand and act on education disparities.  The effort included reviewing existing research/literature and interviewing experts to generate a framework that organizes the variety of indicators for measuring disparities in education equity. Education First also reviewed every state education agency (including DC) website to learn more about which of these indicators are collected and how (if at all) are the data used, and it administered a survey to SEA leaders to learn more about state priorities and plans.

The results painted a mixed picture of the field: While most states currently collect a limited and traditional set of indicators of student learning (driven largely by federal accountability requirements), a few innovative state approaches to using equity indicators emerged, and several state leaders expressed interest in doing more. At the same time, several states reported strong interest in developing and using equity measures in a few key areas. And they indicated that more research (and examples) documenting how different data can be used to influence different student outcomes is needed.

The Education First landscape scan ended with a final caution:

“If funders, policymakers and system leaders take action to collect data on disparities absent a plan to use these data for systems change, they could feed biases and stereotypes instead of supporting more equitable student outcomes.”

The project will next produce case examples of how exactly different states and communities have put in place equity indicators — and have successfully used data from the indicators to make improvements in student learning.