Educational Equity: Six Ways to Open Opportunity

Educational equity is the civil rights issue of this century. Although the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed in 1965, the promise of equal education for every student has yet to be fulfilled. Providing what is needed to unlock the learning potential of every child helps in also unlocking their human potential—the key to good citizenship. That’s good for the learner, their family, their community, and our nation.

This Special Report by Jessie Woolley-Wilson outlines strategic areas of focus to increase access and opportunity for every student. Investing in digital learning tools and EdTech programs that provide personalized learning for students and give educators the professional learning they need to achieve success is one of six critical solutions addressed.  Access to advanced instructional technologies leads to increased learning outcomes.

 Here are six areas to focus on for educational equity:

  1. Greater diversity in all schools. Research shows that socioeconomic integration benefits both low-income and wealthier students. Positive actions are being taken by the Obama administration to support school integration by income, but more needs to be done.
  2. Set expectations and standards high. We need to improve high school college preparation at scale. This can be accomplished by consciously having teachers’ expectations for all students set high, and to use state and federal policy to improve high schools. The quality of high school is a key predictor of student success in college.
  3. Aligning school achievement with teacher and student success. High turnover of teacher in low-income schools affects student learning and destabilizes education communities. Ongoing professional development for teachers, and formative assessment training and use in classrooms improve the experience and achievement of teachers and students.
  4. Connecting with broadband and the innovation it enables. Providing high-speed access in all schools and the ability to learn anytime, anywhere can help us fulfill the promise of education technology to reach every student.
  5. Fund when, where, and how it matters. New provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) target dollars to the highest poverty school districts, and much of it will increase valuable Ed-Tech funding. With more money comes better school infrastructure, more teachers, smaller class sizes, and access to educational technology.
  6. Support college attendance, completion, and employment. Our goal should be to lower the cost of college, cultivate a workforce with the relevant and globally competitive capabilities to help them thrive in the world marketplace, or pursue post-graduate degrees.

By providing equal opportunity and inclusion for all students, we not only help reduce poverty over the long term by also foster the economic growth that expands opportunity for everyone. It is moral obligation to keep the American Dream alive for present and future generations.

About the Author: Jessie Woolley-Wilson

President, CEO, and Board Chair

Jessie Woolley-Wilson

Jessie supports the broader K12 industry by serving on the boards of several educational organizations including the International Association for K12 Online Learning (iNACOL), Camelot, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and Islandwood. Jessie has been a featured speaker at international events including TEDx Rainier, SXSWedu, and DENT. She was awarded the 2015 Executive Excellence Award in the CEO of the Year category by Seattle Business magazine; she was also on the Forbes “Impact 15” list for being a disruptor of education, and was honored as a “Woman of Influence” by Puget Sound Business Journal for making an impact in the EdTech industry.

Jessie holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from the University of Virginia. She is also a 2007 Henry Crown Fellow and moderator of the Aspen Institute.