Identifying and Closing Equity Gaps

One of the most significant challenges facing community colleges is how to achieve equity in educational outcomes, such as degree attainment or transfer to four-year universities, across subpopulations of students. California and our colleges are models of diversity – among the most diverse in the country. We are committed to meeting the diverse needs of students and giving every student the chance to achieve success.

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Using Data to Create Insight

To identify and close equity gaps, you need to understand how well you are meeting the diverse needs of your students and where you need to improve. Data analysis can help you identify students who are facing challenges and create meaningful insights that point to where your college needs to close equity gaps.

Making Fundamental Change

The most skillful use and analysis of equity data to paint your college’s equity picture will be meaningless if you cannot make the changes necessary to improve the picture. This kind of fundamental change needs to address all the levers of performance in your college, including structure, policies, processes, relationships, and leadership.

A Step-by Step Example

The following steps illustrate one possible process for developing a college strategic plan. The steps and resources are there for you to adapt and modify based on your specific situation and needs.

Task StepRelated ASK Resources

Lead with Appreciative Inquiry

You use Appreciative Inquiry to research your college's needs in a way that builds on your strengths and your stakeholders’ collaboration.

Bring in the Student Voice

Your purpose in completing this process is to ensure all students have a fair chance. You want to give voice to students by beginning with a firm foundation of data and input collected from student groups.

  • Inquiry Guide: Using Student Voices (coming soon)

Identify data sources

Use data sources to assess student services, demographics, academic performance, and outcomes.

Task StepRelated ASK Resources

Conduct bivariate analysis

You first need to understand the student groups on which you will focus your research. Bivariate data disaggregation allows you to distinguish student performance characteristics and identify how student groups are being impacted.

Conduct multivariate data analysis

To further define impact on smaller student sub-groups, you can use multivariate disaggregation and data visualization techniques.

  • Multivariate Disproportionate Impact (coming soon)
  • Disproportionate Impact in Veteran Access (coming soon)
  • Working With Small Samples (coming soon)
  • The Art and Heart of Data Disaggregation: Exploring Students’ Complex Identities (coming soon)
Task StepRelated ASK Resources

Communicate broadly

In this step, you communicate your findings about where students are struggling, create a sense of urgency, and engage resources to close equity gaps.

  • The Art and Heart of Data Disaggregation: Exploring Students’ Complex Identities (coming soon)
Task StepRelated ASK Resources

Lead with a systems focus

Meaningful change requires a systems approach. When considering how to close equity gaps, you need to look at everything in your college that affects performance, including structure, policies, processes, and leadership.