On April 15th, more than 50 Network members and community leaders attended StriveTogether’s “Role of Equity & Community in Systems Change” convening in Atlanta, Georgia. Equity is an integral part of collective impact. Implementing collective impact in a quality way means actively working to make systems more equitable and closing disparities in achievement.
“Our goal should be to have low-performing students and higher performing students both perform at higher levels than what they are now.”
Dr. Ron Ferguson of the Achievement Gap Initiative of Harvard University kicked off the day and emphasized this point with his concept of Excellence with Equity. He suggested that our goal is not (or should not be) to just get lower-performing students to perform at the same level as higher-performing students. Instead, our goal should be to have low-performing students and higher performing students both perform at higher levels than what they are now. Often, Dr. Ferguson suggests, when we talk about equity, we leave out excellence and when we talk about excellence we leave out equity. We need to find a way to achieve both if we really want to change our systems and see sustained improvement in our students’ outcomes.
This idea of excellence with equity was carried throughout the first day of the “Role of Equity & Community in Systems Change” convening as we dug in with facilitators Dr. JuanCarlos Arauz of E3: Education, Excellence, & Equity and Jarrod Schwartz of Just Communities for an interactive session focused on the “how” of equity. Three key equity areas were identified as barriers to moving towards action:
- Having difficult (and successful) conversations about equity
- Having a partnership that reflects the community (especially those the partnership is focused on serving)
- Disaggregating data to lead to effective and equitable strategies for improvement
Tools were provided and practiced for each issue area to ensure that partnerships are not just doing the work, they could do it with quality; with equity.
There is still a lot of work to do, both in local communities and nationally, to ensure that every child has a fair chance at success. A large piece of this work is changing the systems that perpetuate the low achievement and disparities in outcomes that we are currently seeing. Cradle to career partnerships are uniquely positioned to drive this shift in systems to not only ensure that disparity gaps close, but also that all students are achieving at high and acceptable levels. They are uniquely positioned to create systems that are excellent, with equity.
This post originally appeared on the StriveTogether Blog.