Equal vs. Equitable


"The least restrictive learning environment with the appropriate supports necessary for student academic success."

Equity versus equality has been a long debated and scrutinized comparison in education. The key is to provide the least restrictive environment with the appropriate supports needed for success. For many years, people have come up with new and different ways of providing or facilitating education. Instructional leaders have researched and sought after the models that would give them the solution to increasing student achievement and raising test scores. One premise has held true to the test of time……one size doesn’t fit all. We do know that research says that most factors and actions taken in education have some validity in raising test scores. That’s the good news. The fact still remains that every child sitting in our classrooms are very different. We can use research to design programs, methods, and actions that generate the greatest gains in student achievement, however there are differences for each child. The phrase “Do We All Have a Pair of Shoes or Do We All Have a Pair of Shoes That Fit?” is borrow from a great superintendent in South Carolina that uses that phrase to discuss meeting the needs of all children.

Processes That Support a Safe, Productive, and Equitable Learning Environment with High-Quality Instruction

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS)

The Process of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) provide the necessary supports for each student to be successful, which includes academic, behavioral, and social/emotional supports. It’s important for instructional leaders to understand they are a critical component to successful implementation of MTSS or any other type of large scale innovation. Several processes and support systems fall under the umbrella of MTSS, including RTI and PBIS. MTSS is a data-based model of problem solving that ensures the supports utilized meet the needs of the students so “you don’t just have a pair of shoes, but the shoes fit.” All staff and students are part of the process of a multi-tiered system of support and have supports provided as needed to all students. MTSS is a layered approach to providing academic and behavior supports. MTSS utilizes a systematic problem solving model to analyze multiple pieces of data to determine how all students are responding to intervention and supports provided.

Response to Intervention (RTI)

There are two overarching goals of RTI. The first is to deliver evidence-based interventions and the second is to use students’ response to interventions as a basis for determining instructional needs and support. RTI is most commonly known for being used in literacy instruction in the early grades. The underpinning of RTI is that all students should receive high-quality reading instruction, along with frequent monitoring to gauge progress. This is referred to as Tier 1 instruction or core instruction. This is the foundation of classroom instruction. Prior to moving to a more intense or higher Tier of intervention, the team needs to determine that the student is receiving high-quality differentiated core instruction at the classroom level. The general guideline is that 75-80% of students should master content or perform at grade-level proficiency

with high-quality and differentiated core instruction. If more than 20% of students need additional support, the effectiveness of Core should be examined. Students who show signs of weakness or need additional supports then receive targeted instruction intended to catch them up to their peers, also known as Tier 2 instruction. Generally, up to 20% of students will need additional Tier 2 support. Students in need of additional support, after receiving Tier 2 interventions, receive intensive intervention and support in the Tier 3 process. Students receiving Tier 3 supports generally account for about 5% of the total student population

Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS)

Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) is a combination of strategies used with all students to prevent problem behaviors, establishes expectations that are taught to all students, is based on a long history of behavioral practices and effective design/strategies, and includes next steps for reteaching of expectations as needed. Students earn positive incentives for meeting expectations. PBIS uses an evaluation of data to support decisions that will create a school atmosphere that supports staff and student positive behaviors. A major focus is to teach and encourage respectful, responsible behaviors from all students.

Multi-tiered Systems of Support are evidence-based programs and practices proven to improve academic and behavior performance, more narrowly defined instructional targets, diagnostic assessments, instructional practices, explicit high-quality instruction, increased supportive and corrective feedback, guided practice opportunities, specific content that is gradually accelerated, and frequent progress monitoring. Using the systemic approach of RTI allows teachers and staff to be involved in the entire process for every student’s academic performance and socio-emotional well-being. No teacher is alone or left on an island, instead teams of teachers and staff are accountable for student progress and meeting the needs of every student. The goal behind RTI is to have a framework that gives children intensive help before they fall so far behind that they end up performing significantly below grade level or in special education classes. PBIS helps to set behavior expectations in a positive manner, reinforce those expectations, and re-teach as needed to help all students learn in a positive and safe learning environment.

“Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same. Fairness means everyone gets what they need.”