Foster Equity to Improve Student Achievement

Help staff to engage all students and improve academic outcomes with equitable practices and social and emotional learning (SEL).

Research shows that students of color (especially African-American students) receive significantly higher rates of disciplinary action. This can have lasting effects on students and may impact their future education, employment, and income. As education professionals, we have a responsibility to implement equitable practices in schools and communities and ensure that all students are treated fairly — no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, family income, disability, cultural background, or religious affiliation.

SEL and Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports (PBIS) can help educators foster equity and address the root cause of disproportionate disciplinary actions and referrals while simultaneously providing a flexible framework that addresses the unique needs of a school.

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Start Implementing Equitable Practices Right Now!

Download a free copy of our 5 Equitable Action Activities for Educators Using Social and Emotional Learning

In order to disrupt inequity in schools we must examine our own unconscious biases and strive to overcome them.

Check out our Promoting Equity Through PBIS and SEL blog post to learn more about SEL and equitable practices in schools. Then, feel free to download or print this free activity sheet and share it with your staff to help boost their social and emotional competence while increasing their knowledge and practice of equity.

SEL Promotes Equity

Research shows that universal social and emotional interventions can help all students improve academically, regardless of race or family income (AEI/Brookings Working Group on Poverty and Opportunity, 2015). 

Best practices that have been shown to improve academic outcomes of all students include:

  • Implementing a district-wide policy to reduce suspensions and expulsions
  • Using restorative practices
  • Helping staff and students build prosocial skills
  • Establishing a school environment that discourages problem behavior
  • Utilizing multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) to meet the needs of all students
  • Promoting culturally responsive teaching whereby every student is treated fairly

Looking at Equity Through a Social Emotional Lens 
A presentation from the 2017 Colorado Healthy Schools Summit

These slides, presented at the 2017 Colorado Healthy Schools Summit, outline the important ways that SEL can promote equitable opportunities for all students. Among the many items discussed in this presentation are:

  • Barriers to student success like stress, depression, and trauma
  • The definition of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and how they contribute to inequity
  • How SEL can combat all of these to support students and build their resilience

As part of our social and emotional learning solution, Aperture Education provides access to Foundational Practices — actionable ideas that educators can use to set positive expectations and goals for their students. These Foundational Practices include Trauma-Informed Practices, which help educators understand how to support their students who have been adversely affected by traumatic experiences. Click here to download the Trauma-Informed Practices Teacher Notes, one sample of what we provide to our customers through our system, Evo Social/Emotional.


Want more information? This 
presentation from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) illustrates the connection between SEL and equity, and tells educators what they can do to make improvements in their classroom.

[On-Demand Webinar] Equity and SEL Part II: Districts Share Strategies and Best Practices

Schools and districts can learn from one another by sharing best practices to improve equity in schools. This webinar, hosted by CASEL, explores how two districts — Chicago Public Schools and Tulsa Public Schools — are integrating SEL and equity within their schools and community. 

Watch this webinar to learn:

  • How SEL competencies work in conjunction with equitable practices for children and youth
  • How two school districts are improving equity through SEL programs and policies
  • Tips to improve equity by increasing teachers’ social and emotional competence
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 Promote Equity in Your School with Aperture Education's Evo SEL and the DESSA

How the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) Can Help Foster Equity

The Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) is a standardized, strength-based assessment that measures students’ social and emotional competence in grades K-8. Grounded in resilience theory, the DESSA helps educators promote equity and the social and emotional strengths of children.

Recent research on the DESSA:

  • Social and emotional competence, as measured by the DESSA-mini, was found to be a better predictor of students’ reading and math achievement than socioeconomic status (LeBuffe & Robitaille, 2016).
  • Academic achievement and DESSA scores are strongly correlated for students of all races, even after controlling for family income.
  • After controlling for DESSA scores, many of the associations between race and academic achievement disappeared, and the association between poverty and low academic achievement decreased (Chain, Shapiro, LeBuffe, & Bryson, In Press).

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