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Equity Terms

Critical Terms in Discussing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Diversity is a representation of a range of groups in a given setting.  Schools will be diverse if they contain students and staff from the range of racial/ethnic groups in a community.

Inclusion is the active acceptance of and respect for all participants in a setting.

Equity:  Raising the achievement of all students while narrowing the gap between the highest and lowest achieving students and eliminating the racial disproportionality of which students are in the highest and lowest achieving groups.

Equity is the approach that consists of using extra and different measures to bring about the condition of same status - the state of equality.

Equity does not mean treating everyone in the same way.  It means doing whatever it takes to get everyone to the same place.

Equitable outcomes for each student is the purpose for having an equity plan of action.




Students of Color refers collectively to African, African American, Indian, Asian, Latino, and multi-racial students.

Implicit Bias is hidden bias or unconscious bias which explains why discrimination persists, even when individuals consciously oppose it.

Disproportionality is the overrepresentation of a particular group in a system compared to its representation in the general population.

Disparities are caused by inequitable or different services provided to one group as compared to another group.  Disparities, then, can be described as unnecessary and avoidable.  They are not random, not accidents of nature, cannot be explained away by individual pathology, are sustained over time, and are beyond the control of the individual.

Ethnicity is defined by group membership based on genealogy, national origin, and ancestry.

Linguistically diverse students refers to “students whose first language is either a language other than English or a language other than the middle class, mainstream English used in schools.”

Culture is a broad and comprehensive concept that includes all the ways of being or a way of life.

Culturally diverse students refers to “students who may be distinguished [from the mainstream culture] by ethnicity, social class, and/or language” (Perez, 1998). As such, this term may refer to students who are from racial/ethnic minority groups, students whose primary language is not English, and students who are from low-income or poor households.

Cultural Competence:  The knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices that allow individuals to form relationships and create learning environments that support the academic achievement and personal development of learners from diverse racial and cultural groups.

Cultural competence includes:

  • recognizing the educational impact of race and culture.
  • addressing demographic inequities in achievement.
  • building relationships across racial and cultural differences.
  • adapting curriculum to reflect racial and cultural diversity.
  • ongoing self-reflection about one’s cultural competence.