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Massachusetts Plan for Equitable Access to Excellent Educators, 2015-2019

Equity Plan Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does the Equity Plan mean for my school or district?

  2. What is the 2015 Massachusetts Equity Plan? Why did Massachusetts create this plan now? Has the Commonwealth had a plan like this before?

  3. What is an "equity gap"?

  4. What is an "excellent educator"?

  5. The Equity Plan and the website mention gaps in access to experienced teachers. Does this assume that inexperienced teachers are lower-quality teachers?

  6. Where can I learn more about the strategies to address equity gaps included in the plan?

  7. If the plan doesn't require additional actions from schools and districts, what is its purpose?

  8. I've heard that some of my neighboring districts are participating in an Educational Equity Professional Learning Network. What is its purpose?


  1. What does the Equity Plan mean for my school or district?

    The Massachusetts Equity Plan provides additional approaches a school or district may take in closing equity gaps, and also calls attention to ongoing work by ESE that addresses equity gaps. For more information on next steps a school, district, or community member may take, see our one-page quick summaries for specific audiences.

    Although engaging with the strategies is not required, districts can benefit from doing so. Strategies are aligned with and support work districts are already doing to pursue ongoing goals, such as closing achievement gaps. Districts can more precisely target their limited time, effort and resources. Access to excellent educators affects virtually all the other school-level issues. We know that the quality of educators is the most important in-school factor, and it supports the success of other initiatives. Attempts to improve student learning are only as effective as the quality of educators implementing them.

  2. What is the 2015 Massachusetts Equity Plan? Why did Massachusetts create this plan now? Has the Commonwealth had a plan like this before?

    In July 2014, Secretary Arne Duncan announced the federal Excellent Educators for All initiative to "move America toward the day when every student, in every public school is taught by excellent educators." This initiative, as well as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, requires all states to submit plans regarding how the state will insure that low income and minority children do not have higher rates of experiences with unqualified, inexperienced, or out-of-field teachers. States must also address how they will monitor and report on the plan's progress. For the full text of the regulations, see Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 1111 (b)(8)(C) (2006).

    The Massachusetts Equity Plan's strategies are about increasing student experience with excellent educators, whereas previous plans tended to focus more on redistributing teachers. Massachusetts's prior Equity Plan, created in 2006 and revised in 2011, focused almost exclusively on the equitable distribution of highly qualified teachers. The plan emphasized the percentage of teachers rated as Highly Qualified Teachers, and the distribution of such teachers. The 2015 Equity Plan shift the focus from the educator to the student.

  3. What is an "equity gap"?

    "Equity gaps" refer to statistical differences in the rates that different groups of students are learning from certain categories of teachers. For example, in Massachusetts, low-income students are placed in classrooms with experienced teachers less frequently than their higher-income peers. This represents a gap in access to experienced teachers.

  4. What is an "excellent educator"?

    The Equity Plan defines "excellent educator" as a combination of characteristics, which often includes student impact, teacher performance, experience, and highly qualified status. This definition is not based on a "one size fits all" metric or formula. ESE recognizes that a single measure is not what can or should define an Excellent Educator, and that by taking a more comprehensive definition of educator quality, we can better see the picture of student access to excellent educators.

  5. The Equity Plan and the website mention gaps in access to experienced teachers. Does this assume that inexperienced teachers are lower-quality teachers?

    Although research is inconclusive on when teachers reach the height of their effectiveness, the bulk of the research demonstrates that inexperienced teachers, especially teachers in their first year, are at their lowest point of effectiveness.1 These findings do not mean that less-experienced educators are always lower-quality educators, but the data included in the Massachusetts Equity Plan is intended to draw attention to the statewide, substantial inequity in low income and minority students' access to experienced educators. Regardless of the success of some first year teachers, when high minority schools employ nearly twice as many first year teachers as do low minority schools, we are facing an equity gap that must be closed.

  6. Where can I learn more about the strategies to address equity gaps included in the plan?

    The MA Equity Strategies page of this website provides a list of links to more information about each strategy included in the plan.

  7. If the plan doesn't require additional actions from schools and districts, what is its purpose?

    The Equity Plan is intended to close equity gaps through a variety of approaches, including:

    • informing leaders of statewide equitable access gaps and major root causes
    • unifying disparate, agency-wide efforts that address equity gaps
    • identifying and describing key statewide strategies that address equity gaps
    • identifying and describing optional strategies and resources districts can use to address equity gaps
    • identifying and sharing district and school best practices through the Educational Equity Professional Learning Network, ongoing progress monitoring, and Annual Reports
    • establishing a plan for consistently communicating with diverse stakeholders statewide about equity gaps and strategies to address them
    • establishing a plan for monitoring state- and local-level progress toward closing equity gaps, spotlighting and sharing successful practices, and identifying districts that can use additional support


  8. I've heard that some of my neighboring districts are participating in an Educational Equity Professional Learning Network. What is its purpose?

    The 2015-16 Educational Equity Professional Learning Network (PLN) reflects Massachusetts' commitment to addressing persistent disparities in certain student subgroups' access to excellent educators. The Educational Equity PLN brings together nine districts/schools to explore strategies to address equity gaps for low income students, minorities, English Language Learners, and Students with Disabilities. The PLN supports districts and schools in identifying and formulating plans to address local equity gaps, both through strategies included in the Equity Plan and through locally-developed strategies. We look forward to sharing the lessons and outcomes of these strategies throughout the Commonwealth.


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Last Updated: January 20, 2016
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