Reaching Equity in Systemic Reform: How Do We Assess Progress and Problems?
Jane Butler Kahle
This paper provides an analysis of educational equity in science and mathematics and
proposes a practical way to assess equity in systemic reform. A synthesis of major
national and international studies as well as a comprehensive review of the literature are
used to suggest a way to asess when educational systems, particularly those involved in
systemic reform, are moving toward equity. First a definition of equity and of equitable
education is developed. Next, based on an analysis of NELS:88, High School and Beyond, and
TIMSS, indicators of equity are proposed. The efficacy of those indicators is analyzed by
a review of the pertinent literature. Last, an equity metric is developed.
Using a research paradigm, the paper builds a practical model that is applicable for districts, schools, and classrooms across this country. Key indicators, applicable across many types of educational systems, are enrollment and achievement in eighth-grade mathematics, quality of the content and instruction of science and mathematics courses, narrowing of achievement gaps among subgroups of students, and changes in teaching practices to align them with the mathematics and science standards. Variation in the equity metric is described for several types of school districts.
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