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State Handbook to Advance Racial Equity

A teacher helping a student with an assignment in a classroom.

Student access to high-quality learning should not be predetermined by student race, yet persistent racial disparities in educational opportunities and outcomes have resulted from centuries of discrimination in access to education, employment, housing, and other social supports for Black, Native American, and other marginalized racial and ethnic groups. In school systems across the United States, meaningful efforts to ensure access to effective educational opportunities require policies and practices that not only prevent discrimination but also move beyond simple notions of equality (in which every student gets the same) to equity (in which each and every student gets what they need to develop academically, socially, emotionally, and physically).

The system we need requires educational leaders in every corner of the nation to respond in new ways to the complex challenges they navigate. The State Handbook for Advancing Racial Equity (SHARE), a state edition of LPI's Districts Advancing Racial Equity (DARE) tool, offers a holistic framework that can be used to examine state policies and inform steps toward improvement. The handbook aims to leverage what is known about state systems to build on the assets of and respond to the needs of students of color.

State and local policymakers and administrators must work together symbiotically to create coherent education systems that support each and every student. When misaligned in purposes and roles, state and local education leaders create confusion at best and actively hinder progress at worst. However, with a unified vision and framework, state and local leaders can each use their unique and critical roles to disrupt persistent inequities in our educational systems. The DARE (district) and SHARE (state) frameworks work in concert to support this work. SHARE offers state leaders an avenue to improve racial equity in education at the appropriate grain size and in ways that actively support local systems.

The Framework

Like the DARE tool, this handbook uses a framework that consists of six key domains to advance racial equity:

  1. Vision: Clear, explicit, and ambitious vision for statewide racial equity
  2. Deeper learning: Rich, deeper learning and inclusive and affirming curricula and practices
  3. School environments: Safe, healthy, and inclusive school environments
  4. Resources: Financial, human, and material resources that are sufficient, appropriate, and equitably allocated
  5. Engagement: Meaningful engagement with students, families, interest holders, communities, and leaders
  6. Data systems: Data systems that drive progress toward racial equity

Framework for Advancing Racial Equity in Education

The framework is based on the supposition that achieving racial equity in education means that student success is not predetermined by student race and that each and every student gets the support and resources they need to develop academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. Student success occurs when students develop competencies for work, life, and civic participation; developmentally appropriate academic knowledge and skills; and the social and emotional skills that undergird healthy self-image and relationships with others and the broader world. The framework also recommends that states set direction and take measurable and timely action in an ongoing cycle of improvement in partnership with districts, local boards, schools, and community members.

How to Use This Handbook

There are multiple ways states might use SHARE:

  • Assessing current conditions, assets, and opportunities for improvement based on existing state policies and practices
  • Reviewing available state data and identifying information needed to set racial equity goals and monitor progress
  • Making data-informed decisions for improving policies and practices
  • Monitoring progress toward racial equity in an ongoing cycle of continuous improvement

The state edition of the DARE tool is informed significantly by the original DARE tool, which is based on a systematic review of literature and existing instruments for advancing systems-level equity, as well as by a scan of state policies for advancing racial equity. SHARE was designed with state leaders in mind and at the request of state leaders who were seeking a state edition of the DARE tool.

SHARE originates in the work of the Racial Equity Leadership Network (RELN), a leadership development program that brings together local superintendents and other district cabinet-level leaders to strengthen their capacity to advance racial equity in their school systems. The RELN fellows program was launched in 2017 by the Southern Education Foundation, in partnership with the Learning Policy Institute and the National Equity Project. The original DARE tool was developed to support the work of the RELN fellows and staff from other districts interested in leading this work. SHARE is an outgrowth of their foundational work.

State Handbook for Advancing Racial Equity is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Core operating support for the Learning Policy Institute is provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Raikes Foundation, Sandler Foundation, Skyline Foundation, and MacKenzie Scott. We are grateful to them for their generous support. The ideas voiced here are those of the authors and not those of our funders.