Equity of Opportunity and Baltimore County Public Schools

“An equitable system does not treat all students in a standardized way, but differentiates instruction, services, and resources to respond effectively to the diverse needs of students, so that each student can develop his or her full academic and societal potential.” —Learning Policy Institute report

Districts are increasingly tasked with providing options for at-risk and underserved student populations to address persistent achievement gaps. While nationwide gains in closing achievement gaps have been made, research shows that underserved student populations still achieve at lower rates than their peers in many areas.

Even before the passage of ESSA, Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) established an Office of Equity and Cultural Proficiency with the mission of creating, sustaining, and investing in a culture of deliberate excellence for every student, every school, and every community. With increasingly diverse classrooms, the district has the challenge of providing learner-centered environments that support myriad student needs. Students at BCPS come from varied backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses. They have different social identities. They speak many different native languages — 85 languages from 108 countries. Some struggle with physical and learning disabilities.

Students who are ready to take on additional academic challenges should have the opportunity to excel, while those who are historically underserved deserve the extra time and attention needed for content mastery.

BCPS is a great example of the positive impact equity of opportunity can have in raising the bar in education. The four-year cohort graduation rate for the BCPS class of 2016 was 89.2%, marking the sixth consecutive year of gain in graduation rate. Additionally, the graduation rate gap between Black or African-American and White students has disappeared completely.

Chart: 4 year grade rate at BCPS, black and white students

 

Supporting Equity in Your District with Digital Curriculum

Implementing a digital curriculum program, when combined with intensive training to build capacity to apply an equity lens to decisions, has allowed BCPS to enhance learning opportunities for every student, drive student engagement and motivation, and close achievement gaps. Verletta White, Interim Superintendent, offers this advice to education leaders interested in launching a similar equity effort:

  • Take the time for proper implementation.
  • Effectively address the existing culture for teaching and learning to enhance learning opportunities.
  • Be strategic in the selection of digital curriculum.
  • Provide ongoing, personalized professional development.
  • Provide leadership as you gain buy-in and consensus for your equity efforts.

 

Read the white paper to learn more about Equity vs. Equality and how BCPS is raising the bar in education to support equal opportunities for all students.

For more information about Equity of Opportunity, visit www.apexlearning.com/equity