Together, educators are doing the reimagining and reinvention work necessary to make true educational equity possible. Student-centered learning advances equity when it values social and emotional growth alongside academic achievement, takes a cultural lens on strengths and competencies, and equips students with the power and skills to address injustice in their schools and communities.

Equity is the “emotion, passion, and purpose” behind next generation learning designs. Next gen educators refuse to ignore that K-12 education in the U.S. is inequitable. Just looking at disparities in funding is enough evidence of inequity, although it isn’t only about financial resources. The system is failing whole groups of students—achievement gaps get wider the longer students are in school—and reform efforts typically result in only the slightest of improvements. The culture in schools, even the way the field talks about changing schools, also contributes to an inequitable system.

The challenge of Designing for Equity is making equity an explicit goal and keeping it central to each design choice and next gen learning practice. 

Some of the actions educators take when they are Designing for Equity include the following:

  • Understand their own identity and quench their desire to learn about the injustices their students, colleagues, and communities face because of race, class, gender, ability.  

  • Seek input from multiple voices, identifying who isn’t “at the table.”

  • Examine curriculum, pedagogy, and student-centered practices with an equity lens; testing for inherent biases and unintended omissions.

  • Use a new discourse of belonging, worth, safety, and justice.

  • Confront systems, policies, and personal actions that prevent students from reaching their full potential.

Educators are actively working to solve the challenge of Designing for Equity because they demand an excellent education for every child. NGLC is early in its journey of Designing for Equity: we are learning from and sharing the work of schools and partners, including the collaborative development of a toolkit, Designing for Equity in Next Gen Learning.

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