Supporting Equitable Learning Opportunities for All Students

All students benefit when schools develop a continuum of learning opportunities infused with instructional approaches that foster deeper learning. Furthermore, given that students of color and students from low-income families make up more than half of the nation’s K–12 student population, providing equitable opportunities for all students to develop deeper learning competencies is even more important. The nation’s prosperity depends on the success of individuals from diverse groups and backgrounds.

As the skills and knowledge necessary for individuals to succeed in the global economy continue to change, states and local communities can better support all schools and student subgroups.

Students from diverse and/or low-income backgrounds often experience the following:

Repetitive drilling of basic content rather than deep inquiry and substantive analysis.

All students can master basic skills and content by engaging in real-world problem-solving experiences that draw on specific skills and knowledge.

Inequitable access to effective teachers.

All students need equitable access to effective teaching from educators who are fully certified in the subject(s) they teach and who are well supported.

Less access to a rigorous curriculum and instructional materials to support learning.

All students deserve an advanced curriculum, rigorous instruction, and a prepared educator who can use technology effectively to support student growth.

Less access to a social-emotional support system.

Schools should ensure all students have access to professionals who support the development of students’ social-emotional skills and overall well-being.

Engaging All Students for Success in College, a Career, and Life

Results from ongoing surveys of students show that student engagement in school declines dramatically by high school. The 2016 Gallup poll results show that nearly half of U.S. students report that they are either not engaged or are actively disengaged from school. If schools hope to prepare students adequately for a changing economy that demands higher-level skills and knowledge, they need approaches that engage students in their learning. At the core of this is ensuring that all students—regardless of their home zip code or socioeconomic background—have equitable access to resources and learning opportunities that will prepare them for success in college and a career.

2016 Gallup Student Poll, “Engaged Today – Ready for Tomorrow”

Effectively addressing barriers that limit students’ access to opportunities for deeper learning requires an understanding of the inequities that different student subgroups face as well as a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion across the education space. States, districts, schools, and organizations are engaging in practices that provide the perspectives and resources to address these barriers effectively. These practices shape efforts to improve education, ensuring that voices and experiences of underserved students are represented and at the center of the learning experience.

Institutions and organizations can do the following to support diversity, equity, and inclusion:

  • Design purposeful plans that support the equitable recruitment and retention of a diverse pool of employees and educators.
  • Establish an inclusive space for educators, policymakers, and researchers to surface issues and barriers to educating all students equitably.
  • Ensure that educational priorities and outcomes reflect the plurality of voices and perspectives that make up the nation’s population.

Deeper Learning Equity Fellows

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Advancing Equity Through Deeper Learning

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Pilot Project


State Approaches for Advancing Deeper Learning


Leading for Equity: Opportunities for State Chiefs


For more on equity and learning, visit the deeper learning resource page.