Foster Educational 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 practices that promote equity 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 in education 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.

5 actions to promote educational equity
Start Implementing Education Equity Practices Right Now!

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

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

Download our How to Guide: Promoting Equity Through Social and Emotional Learning to learn more about SEL and equity in education - including actionable steps to combat implicit bias. 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 helping them understand what is equity in education.

SEL Promotes Equity in Education

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 and education equity programs 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 Educational 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 equity in education 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, the DESSA Comprehensive SEL System.


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

[On-Demand Webinar] Advancing Equity with the DESSA: Practical Applications to a Crucial Issue

One of the most important issues in education today is ensuring that we are providing equitable services. That is, making certain that each student is equipped with the skills that they need to be successful in school and in life. One of the most important skill sets for our students is social and emotional competence. 

This webinar will focus on specific, practical tools and techniques embedded in the DESSA to advance educational equity. Participants will learn:

  • new approaches for recognizing and honoring student strengths
  • differentiating SEL instruction to support equity
  • identifying and countering implicit bias
So many of us strive to promote equity in our classrooms and out-of-school time programs; this webinar will give us new insights, tools, and techniques to advance that goal.

View the Webcast About Educational Equity
Alexander den Heijer quote about educational equity

 Promote Equity in Your School with Aperture Education's DESSA Comprehensive SEL System

How the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) Can Help Foster Educational 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 in schools 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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