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

Equitable Access to Excellent Educators
Frequently Asked Questions

I. Reporting Requirements

  1. Question: What is the cause of the requirement to identify equity gaps?

    Answer: The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that states and districts identify and address any disparities that result in historically disadvantaged students being taught at higher rates than other students by teachers who are inexperienced, out-of-field, or lower rated (Section 1111(g)(1)(B)).

  2. Question: What is an equity gap?

    Answer: An equity gap is defined as any instance where a historically disadvantaged student group has been assigned to a certain type of teacher 50 percent more often than, or 1.5 times as often as, their peers.

  3. Question: How can the Student Learning Experience Report identify equity gaps?

    Answer: The Student Learning Experience (SLE) Report provides information about equity gaps at the school or district level. The SLE Report compares the rates at which groups of students have been assigned to different types of teachers. Risk ratios show the difference in the rate at which a historically disadvantaged group was assigned to a teacher with the given characteristic, compared to students not in that group. Risk ratios of 1.5 or higher indicate equity gaps and appear red on the SLE Report.

  4. Question: Which districts are required to identify and address equity gaps?

    Answer: Districts with at least one Title I school must identify whether equity gaps exist at the school and district level. Those with identified equity gaps must explain how the district will address the gap/s.

  5. Question: What is required in the consolidated ESSA grant application relative to the ESSA equity requirement?

    Answer: In the consolidated ESSA grant application you will be asked to describe identified district-level and school-level equity gaps based on 3 years of history and what you are doing to address them. For purposes of this application, DESE is looking specifically for districts to identify and address disparities in the rates at which historically disadvantaged student groups access to excellent educators (ESEA Section 1112(b)(2)). Specifically, Massachusetts districts will identify and address equity gaps in the assignment of students who are economically disadvantaged, students of color, students who are English learners, or students with disabilities, to teachers who are inexperienced, out-of-field, or lower rated. The application is typically released in the summer along with the rest of the grant materials.

  6. Question: Will I have to attach/upload a copy of my district Equity Plan for purposes of the consolidated ESSA application?

    Answer: DESE requires that LEAs identify and address equity gaps within your schools and districts. In addressing gaps, we assume that schools/districts have outlined associated action steps and timelines. Documentation of these plans should be incorporated into core strategic planning documents (e.g., district/school improvement plans). DESE will not be collecting as part of the ESSA application process but will during the monitoring process.

II. Working with equitable access data

  1. Question: What if an equity gap is based on a small number of student experiences (e.g., only 10 English learners in the school)?

    Answer: Data within the SLE report is suppressed when the number of students is fewer than six. In the instance described above, DESE would encourage districts to seriously consider the implications of the identified equity gap on the sub-group of students, no matter how many individuals or experiences it includes. Following the identification of any equity gap, districts should work to consider the data, potential root causes and engage in a thorough reflection relative to the other local and state data. DESE intends for the SLE tool to be used as a starting point for the process of identifying and addressing equity gaps.

  2. Question: What if an equity gap occurs for a certain student group, but there is no corresponding gap in outcomes for that student group?

    Answer: Research suggests Download Word Document that inequitable access to excellent educators does impact student achievement. If an equity gap exists in student assignment, even without a corresponding gap in outcomes for that student group, districts will still be asked what is being done to address that gap. DESE is happy to engage with districts as you think about the implications of this gap, including for instance: What can be done to prevent the equity gap from causing inequities in student outcomes? How can we determine whether the gap in access to teachers is affecting student experiences in other ways?

  3. Question: What strategies might a district use to close equity gaps?

    Answer: DESE has pursued several strategies to address equity gaps at the state level, which are documented in the Massachusetts State Equity plan and supporting resources. DESE's , DESE recommends reviewing "Summary of DESE Resources for Identifying and Addressing Equity Gaps related to Student Assignment" as a first step, which includes links to all of DESE's relevant resources including its Equitable Access to Excellent Educators website. Districts can also explore resources on the U.S. Department of Education's Equitable Access website.

  4. Question: How does the calibration of educator evaluation ratings affect equity data and strategy development?

    Answer: Data on students' rates of assignment to teachers rated Exemplary/Proficient or Needs Improvement/Unsatisfactory come from the summative educator evaluation ratings that districts report. When evaluators are well-calibrated across a district, the district's leaders may have more confidence in the validity of data about access to highly rated teachers. Thus, if district leaders believe the evaluation system it not well-calibrated across the district, evaluator training and calibration would be a reasonable next step towards understanding local students' access to excellent educators. DESE has developed an Online Calibration Tool to support this work.

  5. Question: How do I "describe identified equity gaps" if there are not any risk ratios in the SLE report greater than 1.5 at either the school or district level?

    Answer: DESE created the Student Learning Experience (SLE) report to aid districts in understanding trends in student experiences relative to educator assignment based on available state data. If after running the SLE report at the summary level you find no significant gaps at either the district or the school level, it may be the case that there is local information or data that should be considered when investigating differences in student assignment within a given district. Following these additional analyses, districts may report "no identified equity gaps" in the consolidated ESSA application. DESE will follow up with individual districts during the monitoring period if additional information is needed.

III. Using the Student Learning Experience Report

  1. Question: Where can I learn more about using the SLE Report?

    Answer: Tutorial videos, written instructions, and other guiding information are available on the SLE informational web page.

  2. Question: Who can use the report?

    Answer: The SLE Report is available to Edwin users who have school or district level administrator access credentials. School and district personnel who do not have the credentials to access the SLE Report may contact their district's directory administrator.

  3. Question: Can users compare data against other districts?

    Answer: No, the SLE Report is intended to help districts understand the current and prior learning experiences of students within their district. The Detailed Report links to statewide data on equity gaps. However, users cannot view data from other districts.

    By the same token, equity gaps do not occur simply because a district has a large or small population of historically disadvantaged student groups. The SLE Report compares a district to itself. The question is whether students in a specific group have been assigned to certain teachers at higher rates than other students currently in your district.

  4. Question: Where does the data in the report come from?

    Answer: Answer: Student data comes from the Student Information Management System (SIMS) and Student Course Schedule (SCS). Teacher data comes from the Education Personnel and Management System (EPIMS) and Educator Licensure and Renewal (ELAR). DESE's License Mapping Tool is used in combination with SCS and ELAR data to determine whether a learning experience is in-field or out-of-field.

  5. Question: How are a teachers years of experience determined?

    Answer: The number of years of experience a teacher has are based on the number of years from their first year teaching in MA public schools (in any MA district, even if it is not the one they currently teach in) to the current year.

  6. Question: What does it mean for a teacher to be out-of-field?

    Answer: "Out-of-field teachers" are those who do not hold the proper license for the course they are teaching. For example, a licensed physics teacher who teaches one chemistry course would be considered out-of-field for that specific course. The SLE Report shows the proportion of individual courses, or "learning experiences," that were with a teacher who was out-of-field for that course. This does not change the Massachusetts licensure regulation 7.15(9)(a) that district educators must be licensed, nor does it change the Massachusetts licensure regulation 7.15(9)(a), that a licensed educator may still "be employed for a maximum of 20 percent of his/her time in a role and/or at a level for which s/he does not hold a license."

  7. Question: Why are there dashes in some of the cells?

    Answer: Data is suppressed, and replaced by dashes, in the following situations:

    • Educator information is suppressed if the distinct number of teachers represented is fewer than six.
    • All information is suppressed if the number of students enrolled in the selected student group is fewer than six.
    • Educator evaluation and SGP distributions are suppressed when 100 percent of learning experiences fall into one of the ratings (E/P or NI/U) or SGP (High/Mod./Low) categories.
    • Risk ratios are suppressed if the percentage of experiences with an inexperienced, out-of-field, or NI/U-rated teacher is 2% or less for both the historically disadvantaged group of students and the comparison group
  8. Question: What is the minimum number of students in a student group?

    Answer: Data appears only if the number of students enrolled in the selected student group is six or higher.

  9. Question: Which teacher experiences are represented in the report?

    Answer: The report represents experiences of students who were enrolled in 2nd grade or higher during the selected school year. "Learning experiences" include assignments to all courses.

  10. Question: Which students are included in this report?

    The cohort of students included in the report is determined based on the selected school year. If 2018-19 is selected, for example, this means that the report will include information for students enrolled in the school or district in October 2018.

  11. Question: What does "Years of History" mean?

    Districts may select 1, 3, or 5 years of history. The report defaults to 3 years of history and this is the measure used to calculate risk ratios for purposes of the ESSA consolidated application. The selection determines the years of historical cohort data to be used in the report. If 3 years of history are selected and 2018-19 is selected as the school year, this means that the report will include information for students enrolled in the school or district in October 2018, and include the student learning experiences of those students from 2018-19, 17-18, and 16-17.

Last Updated: July 16, 2019
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