A New Expanded Framework to Better Define and Measure Educational Equity
This post is the first of a three-blog series about using a new expanded framework for deepening our understanding of educational equity. This blog focuses on the first part of this novel framework—instructional equity—and how it opens additional opportunities for students’ success.
Teachers remain the most valuable education lever we have to accelerate literacy achievement and adapt to 21st-century demands. We have the science, technology, and evidence to know what increases achievement and reduces stress for teachers and students alike, so why aren’t we insisting that our teachers have the best tools available in each and every classroom? To increase our success in literacy instruction and learning and expand equity for students and staff, we need to change our thinking. We have already lost too many teachers at a time when we need them more than ever.
In other words, a good curriculum is not enough to make teachers successful or to advance educational equity—a new paradigm is needed.
Exploring Educational Equity
One way to explore and measure educational equity is through the instructional core—a research-based construct highlighting the interdependence of teachers, students, and content. If you change one element of the model, you must change the other two to impact student learning and create positive student outcomes.
Lexia is expanding the concept of educational equity into a framework of three distinct elements using the instructional core model from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Lexia’s model addresses and measures educational equity across the instructional core in three discrete buckets: instructional equity, cultural equity, and digital equity.
This unique approach represents a new way of systematically thinking about equity and makes it easier to measure progress. By improving instructional, cultural, and digital equity across the instructional core, educators have a path forward to remove learning barriers and improve academic success for all students. We believe this new paradigm will provide a complex solution to a deeply entrenched challenge. Let’s look at that first element: instructional equity. What does instructional equity in literacy look like?
Increasing Instructional Equity Through the Instructional Core
When looking at literacy instruction, instructional equity means incorporating the science of reading and Structured Literacy to improve outcomes for all students. Across decades and disciplines, the science of reading provides evidence of how our brain learns to read, why some of us struggle to read, and—most importantly—what instruction will address the struggle.
This begins with providing effective reading instruction to every child. A student’s literacy ability can be the gateway to independence, meaningful work, community engagement, and lifelong learning.
Achieving instructional equity requires balancing instructional changes across all three elements of the instructional core: the student, the teacher, and the content.
- The student. Almost all (95%) of students can master the basic building blocks of literacy when they are given evidence-based instruction, which requires explicit, systematic, and cumulative instruction in six areas: oral language, phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Structured Literacy—the application of the science of reading—uses explicit, systematic, sequential, cumulative, and diagnostic instruction that equips teachers to meet the needs of all readers.
- The teacher. Teachers need professional learning that is based on the science of reading to learn evidence-based approaches to literacy instruction. This learning requires time, space, and support to master. Teachers also deserve efficient technology that generates meaningful, individual, and actionable student data linked to instruction. Technology supports—but does not supplant—the teacher.
- The content. Content used to support instructional equity is grounded in the science of reading, the gold standard for how to teach reading. The science of reading is a large body of scientifically validated research that has repeatedly documented how, unlike developing spoken language, learning to read and write does not “just happen” for anyone. Structured Literacy is the application of the science of reading to classroom instruction.
How Districts Can Help
There are three action steps that districts can take to immediately ensure more equitable learning opportunities for students:
- Empower teachers. Districts can set up their teachers for success by funding and supporting professional learning in the science of reading. The right instructional technology will generate clear, accurate, and actionable data on every child and for every skill in the literacy journey.
- Implement evidence-based content. High-quality instruction programs based on the science of reading and implemented with fidelity using Structured Literacy can accelerate learning for all students, particularly students who experience difficulties with reading.
- Differentiate instruction with data. Collecting and analyzing performance data helps teachers better understand each learner’s unique strengths and needs, thereby allowing them to customize their instruction for every student. Instructional technology that provides this option saves teachers time and stress while equipping them to address individual student needs.
Literacy is fundamental to equity, and instructional equity requires balancing instructional change across all three elements of the instructional core: the student, the teacher, and the content.
As we continue to expand educational equity using this novel framework (instructional equity, cultural equity, and digital equity), educators will have a path forward that removes barriers to learning and creates greater success for students.
You Might Also Like
Quiz Yourself: How much do you know about teaching literacy to students who are reading to learn vs. learning to read?
Quiz Yourself: How much do you know about teaching literacy to students who are reading to learn vs. learning to read? Integrate science of reading instructional strategies into your regular curriculum for developing readers in upper elementary and middle school.
Helping Students Make the Shift from Learning to Read to Reading to Learn
Two-thirds of students are not proficient enough to shift from learning to read to reading to learn in fourth grade. Discover literacy instructional strategies that all teachers can use to help their developing readers be successful across the curriculum.
A Promising Future for Emergent Bilinguals
Most of the research in the science of reading focuses on native English speakers. What does the research tell us about students learning to read and speak English simultaneously, and how can that information benefit Emergent Bilinguals in the classroom?