Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why should my school complete an equity audit?

A: Equity audits can pinpoint and address the source(s) of your school's achievement and disciplinary gaps.  Without a comprehensive audit, schools will only be guessing at why their gaps exist and how to address their achievement and discipline gaps

Q: What is meant by an "achievement gap"?

A:  An achievement gap is where one subgroup in your school or district consistently academically outperforms another group. Examples of achievement gaps are: White students scoring higher than Black students on state or federal standardized tests; special education students having a lower graduation rate than non-special education students; bilingual students having lower grades than non-bilingual students; and, Native American students lacking a positive academic identity in a school where other students have a strong positive academic identity.

Q: What is meant by a "discipline gap"?

Discipline gaps indicate school or district trends in which one group of students is given disciplinary referrals or sanctions, suspended, excluded, expelled, or given legal citations more than other groups. For example, on a national level, Black male students are suspended four times more often than White male students.  The same is true for a number of other categories as well.  Remember: the discipline gap is associate with the achievement gap.

Q: How are School Equity Project equity audits different from other equity audits? 

A: Our Equity Audits are done primarily online!  This cuts down on costs, as experts no longer have to personally visit the sites to perform data analysis, collect interview data and other onsite activities.  Also, it saves tremendous amounts of time because anonymous data is collected online.  Moreover, unlike other audits, schools have an option to become members and do annual equity audits, which provides a longitudinal portrait for schools and districts.  

Q: Who performs School Equity Project equity audits?

A: We are all experts in equity and schools.  The online equity audit designers, interpreters, and presenters are all researchers who are deeply involved in research in the field of educational leadership, school equity and access in schools.  Moreover, we are all former schoolteachers and administrators.  Our team is also well-represented in the type of districts in which we have served: rural, suburban, and urban.  Our works and research is all deeply connected to creating social justice school environments.

Q: Are equity audits helpful, even if we already know that we have achievement or suspension gaps at our school?

A: Yes!  This is true because although many schools know that they have racial achievement or discipline gaps, they hardly ever know: why these gaps exist.  It is not possible to fashion any type of meaningful recommendations for confronting the gaps until and unless the exact reasons of the gaps are identified.

Q: Most equity audits can cost from $10,000 to $15,000 and can take up to 6 months for a comprehensive equity audit to be completed.  So how is the School Equity Project Equity Audit so reasonably priced and done so quickly?

A: The School Equity Project equity audits are less expensive and quicker for a number of reasons: All parent, student, and staff interviews are completed online, thus, school research experts are not needed to collect data.  Advanced online analyses are performed, which saves time on calculating risk ratios, survey data, and other formulas.  Experts are not needed onsite until the final professional developments are provided for schools and districts.

Q: Can't we close our racial achievement gaps or suspension gaps ourselves?

A:  Yes, if armed with knowledge about how to preform equity audits, your staff members can begin to conduct research on which recommendations and responses are most appropriate for your school site.  

Q: Are you saying that you will teach us how to perform our own equity audits, and that we might one day be able to complete our own equity audits?

A: Absolutely!

Q: How long will an Equity Audit take?

A: Typically, equity audits take between 120-180 days.  But it largely depends on how long it takes for your staff to upload data onto the School Equity Project secure server.

Q: What is our school's or district's role in completing the Equity Audit?  What are our responsibilities?

A: You should first commit to doing an equity audit with School Equity Project.  Second, identify a school-level (or district-level) equity team that will be responsible for this project in your organization.  They will need to get all of the stakeholders to complete the online surveys within a timely manner.  Third, organize your school/district data in a way that it can be submitted to our secure servers.  DO NOT UPLOAD ANY IDENTIFYING STUDENT OR STAFF DATA!!!  Finally, the school's equity team should be prepared to engage closely with our experts and researchers.

  1. Will parents and students need to fill information into this audit
  2. Yes, both parents and student MUST fill out sections of this form.  Their voices are necessary for the successful completion of this audit.  Keep in mind that not just any parent will do; you must get the participation of parents and students that are representative of your student body.
  3. What about teachers and administrators?
  4. Every staff member (teacher, administrator, and staff member) is expected to participate in the audit.

Q: What will the Equity Audit look like?

A: After all of your data is submitted and calculations are completed, your school's final equity audit will be presented in report and PDF electronic format.  It will look at your school's trends, policies, practices, cultures, and gaps.  It will identify specific sources of your disparities, and will offer recommendations based on these school-specific findings.  For our district partners, we will identify district-level trends, which will also be presented in the audit.

Q: When will one of the School Equity Project experts come out provide the Professional Development for our school?

A:  After your data is uploaded to the site and all stakeholders have submitted their responses, it will take our trained experts 60-90 days to perform the analysis, and produce an equity audit.  Within 45 days of a completed audit, a research consultant can visit your school (half-day visit) to interpret the data with your school and provide recommendations.  Though you will have access to the equity audit without the visit, the expert visit is HIGHLY recommended for the critical dialogues that must occur around the audit.  Believe us, it is much easier for an outside neutral person to conduct this visit.

Q: Are we required to upload student data?

A:  Yes!  But all student data MUST BE ANONYMOUS.  Do not enter any student name or student ID number.  Even though the data is anonymous, our site is has the highest level of security encryptions and is kept on a secure server, so none of your district's data will ever be jeopardized.  This is useful for our partners who choose to get audits over multiple years or have a number of schools.

Q: Can entire districts perform the Equity Audits for each of their schools?  

A:  Yes, and in fact, trends can be even more salient.  This is also more cost-effective, as district-level pricing is more heavily discounted.  

Q: Isn't it basically the parent's responsibility and the students' personal motivation that determine the success of a school?

A:  Not really.  Research suggest that there are no real behavioral differences that explain the discipline gap, and that the achievement gap is most likely a result of the school's teaching, expectations, leadership, and culture.  Although we promote positive parental involvement and high academic student identities, it is our belief that schools are the unit of analysis.  It is the schools responsibility to do all they can to reverse the achievement and discipline gaps.

Q: Will an Equity Audit change our racial gaps?

A: Yes, we believe that it will reverse the trend after we pinpoint the exact roots of the disparities.  You will know the exact source of the gaps.  But remember, change is not immediate.  In some cases, the problems are so deep that it may take years to completely reverse the trends.  However, without some type of equity audit, you are not ever likely to see an end to achievement or discipline gaps.

Q: How do I sign up?

A: Fill out your school's information. Then, begin the process of uploading your school's/students' data. Someone will be in touch with you regarding the process. Because of the increased interest in equity audits and to make this process more effecient, please have a designated person that will take the charge of your school's equity audit. After the data is uploaded and the analyses are performed, we will produce an audit and schedule a meeting date for our research expert to perform a professional development.