Using Data to Pursue Equity in Schools

Schoolzilla is proud to support a growing community of educators who are committed to using data to pursue equity in their schools. There are many ways to define and measure equity. To take one example, Equal Opportunity Schools is a national nonprofit organization focused on the important issue of access to advanced courses, which can lead to higher engagement and better postsecondary outcomes for students.

At the core of EOS’s mission is the fact that students of color and students from lower-income families are less likely to enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. These “missing students” create a national “enrollment gap” that contributes to systematically worse educational outcomes for those students compared to their wealthier, White, and Asian-American peers.

Like most equity-related issues, this is a complex problem rooted in historical and structural trends. However, it’s also an immensely important problem to solve.

EOS takes a data-driven approach to helping schools confront their enrollment gaps. The first step involves a “gap analysis” (see image below) to identify the size of each school’s enrollment gap.

As you can see, EOS uses the enrollment rate of medium- and high-income White and Asian students as the benchmark for all other groups. From there, they’re able to calculate the number of “missing students” from other demographic categories. This begins to give schools some measurable enrollment goals to help close their enrollment gaps.  

EOS Gap Chart

In our experience at Schoolzilla, real change occurs (and the real work begins) when teachers and administrators are able to have data-driven conversations about their challenges and opportunities.

Using the enrollment gaps identified by EOS, teachers and school leaders can consider questions like, “What would it take for each teacher of an AP prerequisite to get five more students from these underrepresented groups to register?” and from there, develop concrete plans to make their schools more equitable.

Elizabeth Sykes of EOS says that “bringing data to the table is what enables these conversations to start and flourish.” To learn more about EOS’s approach, check them out at eoschools.org.

We’d love to learn about your school’s challenges and successes with equity. Join this conversation!