Equity Focus

High-quality education helps ensure that all children in the nation reach their full potential and succeed. The pandemic has exacerbated barriers to opportunity often already a reality for students and young children from historically underserved populations, including those with disabilities, English learners, those from low-income backgrounds, first-generation college students, those experiencing homelessness, those in or formerly in foster care, LGBTQ+ students, undocumented children and families, student veterans and military-connected students and children, student parents, and international students.

“When President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, the Department of Education went straight to work delivering an unprecedented $130 billion to help schools safely reopen and welcome nearly 100 percent of America’s K-12 students back into the classroom for in-person learning…Today, the Department is advising State and local leaders on how they can continue leveraging American Rescue Plan funds to establish new summer and afterschool programs; grow and strengthen a talented and diverse educator workforce; and invest in tutors, counselors, and other school staff who can lessen the burden on teachers and help tend to our children's social, emotional, and mental health needs. From kindergarten to high school to college and careers, our North Star remains clear: a robust and equitable recovery that ensures every student is able to succeed and pursue their dreams.”
Dr. Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education

As the nation’s PreK-12 schools, early childhood programs, colleges and universities, and institutions of higher education continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic, a distinct focus on expanding equity in education must remain top of mind. Communities have responded to the pandemic in innovative ways to ensure that students, young children, and families continue to have access to the tools they need to succeed, regardless of location or circumstance. Whether addressing connectivity needs, improving ventilation and air quality, providing necessities, collaborating with community stakeholders, or supporting students and young children from a wide variety of backgrounds, providers from early childhood education to higher education have worked diligently throughout the pandemic to ensure that students and young children continue to succeed. Now, as school communities work to not only recover, but thrive, educational equity remains a central element in academic planning.

The resources on this page share school, early childhood program, and campus strategies that specifically address equity. Teachers, early childhood providers, faculty, staff, schools, districts, early childhood programs, institutions of higher education, other places of educational instruction, and States may use these lessons learned, best practices, and Federal resources to ensure equity within all aspects of their education systems and to provide ongoing supports to those most impacted by the pandemic.

A teacher with a group of multi-cultural elementary students in a library

National Center for Homeless Education: An Overview of ARP-HCY State Plans

This resource provides a summary of the American Rescue Plan Homeless Children and Youth (ARP-HCY) program State plans submitted in September 2021, describes trends in how States are using the funds to address the needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and features innovative practices for expanding the capacity of State and local educational agencies to address the needs of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

A therapist guides a young girl through speech therapy exercises.

Lessons from the Field Webinar: Providing Required Compensatory Services That Help Students with Disabilities in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

This Webinar, presented by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services shares information regarding when a school district must provide compensatory services to students with disabilities who did not receive the services to which they were entitled because of the pandemic and how to do so.

Compensatory services are designed to remedy education or other deficits resulting from students with disabilities not receiving services they were due under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

An infographic giving transgender / non-binary student statistics

Infographic of three sections with transgender / non-binary student statistics. Section one: Transgender Students in School. Almost 2% of high-school students identify as transgender. Section two: Transgender Students Face Health Risks. 27% feel unsafe at or going to or from school. 35% are bullied at school. 35% Attempt suicide. Section three: Safe and Supportive Schools Can Help! Create and Enforce Anti-bullying policies. Identify and train supportive school staff.

Lessons from the Field Webinar: Supporting Transgender & Nonbinary Students in K-12 Schools

This Webinar, presented by the U.S. Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, features educators and experts discussing challenges faced by many transgender and nonbinary students and offering actionable strategies for providing support.

Image of a Hispanic boy talking with a Hispanic girl and an African-American girl

Advancing Equity: Five Districts Focus on Improving Outcomes of Black and Latinx Students

This blog post shares examples of schools and districts creating safe and strengths-based environments to facilitate equitable learning for Black and Latinx students.

Image of multi-cultural teachers with computers speaking with students

Integrating Social and Emotional Learning Throughout the School System: A Compendium of Resources for District Leaders

This guide focuses on social emotional learning through an equity lens and offers resources for district leaders to use in implementing systems-level supports to ensure that social emotional learning is integrated into the full educational experiences of their students, families, staff, and community.

Submit Your Lessons Learned and Best Practices

Have a lessons learned or best practice focused on helping to ensure equity as schools and campuses continue to recover from the pandemic? Visit the Best Practices Submission page to view details on submission requirements, and then e-mail Bestpracticesclearinghouse@ed.gov to share your lessons learned or best practice.

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