Where Did the Equity Standard Go?

By Hirsh, Stephanie | The Learning Professional, October 2016 | Go to article overview

Where Did the Equity Standard Go?


Hirsh, Stephanie, The Learning Professional


When Learning Forward released the updated Standards for Professional Learning five years ago, we frequently heard this question: Where did the Equity standard go?

The version of the standards published in 2001 included an Equity standard, which stated:

"Staff development that improves the learning of all students prepares educators to understand and appreciate all students; create safe, orderly, and supportive learning environments; and hold high expectations for their academic achievement" (NSDC, 2001).

We believed then, and we believe now, that it is essential that all educators experience professional learning to develop the knowledge, skills, and beliefs to teach and support every child they serve.

We also know that specific equity topics are often ones educators name in surveys about their professional learning. We appreciate that when educators focus on developing more knowledge, skills, and practices around specific instructional challenges, they will look at the data that indicate whether all of their students are responding or whether some - for example, the boys, or the English learners, or the students labeled as gifted - aren't responding as other demographic groups are.

Why then, would we remove a standard that calls out equity as a critical professional learning element?

We made this choice because we believe addressing equity is not something that can be separate from any other element of professional learning. It is integrated into any effective approach to any of Learning Forward's standards. We believe the same is true for subject matter. If professional learning isn't focused on who our students are and how and what they need to learn, it is missing its mark.

The Outcomes standard is the place where we most fully and explicitly address equity in the current standards. The Outcomes standard states:

"Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students aligns its outcomes with educator performance and student curriculum standards" (Learning Forward, 2011). …

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