Ensuring Equitable Access to Excellent Educators for All

Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria speaks at the Ohio Educator Equity Lab at Battelle for Kids.

On December 6, 2016, more than 40 education leaders from school districts across Ohio took part in an Educator Equity Lab, hosted by Battelle for Kids in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), and Westat. The Lab was an opportunity for district teams to engage with stakeholders to refine their newly developed local equitable access plans, in alignment with Ohio’s Educator Equity Plan, and collaboratively develop actionable steps to facilitate their successful implementation. 

“The Ohio Educator Equity Lab was a successful, collaborative opportunity that advanced both the State and local equity plans,” said Cheryl Krohn, who works in the Ohio Department of Education’s Center for the Teaching Profession. “Ensuring all children have access to excellent educators takes time, commitment, and support amongst a variety of stakeholders. The Equity Lab provided a structure that can be used across Ohio to support local education agencies in moving forward this valuable work. The department will continue to support this work and offer technical assistance, so Ohio can close our gaps in equitable access to excellent educators.”

Data from the USDOE Office of Civil Rights indicates that students’ race and family income often predict their access to excellent educators. Low-income students and high-need schools tend to have teachers who are less experienced, have fewer credentials, and do not demonstrate a track record of success. 

In July 2014, USDOE announced the Excellent Educators for All Initiative to move America toward the goal of ensuring that every student in every public school has equitable access to excellent educators. As part of this initiative, each state educational agency (SEA) submitted a state Educator Equity Plan, describing the steps it would take to ensure that “poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers,” as required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. As of December 22, 2015, Educator Equity Plans for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico were accepted. 

In addition, state plans submitted under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) must describe “how low-income and minority children…are not served at disproportionate rates by ineffective, out-of-field, or inexperienced” educators. At the Ohio Educator Equity Lab, participants gave feedback on local equitable access planning requirements, such as data measures, which could be included in the state’s ESSA plan and have potential to impact equitable access to excellent educators for all students in Ohio.

In the coming months, ODE and USDOE’s Office of State Support will follow up with district teams that participate in the Equity Lab to support implementation of their local equity plans. These plans will also serve as exemplars for other districts in Ohio. 

“Our strategy is to improve teaching and learning practices for all teachers and to provide mentoring support and high-quality professional development to “grow” new teachers, which will ensure equitable access to excellent education for all students,” shared Sharon McDermott, superintendent of Franklin Local Schools. “The Equity Lab provided time for our district team to have conversations about specific activities to implement our strategy. It also allowed us to hear what other districts are considering.”

Download Ohio’s Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators and read other state equity plans.