IR Data Series #2 – Equity and Data in Guided Pathways

Welcome to the second installment of the IR data series related to Guided Pathways. By now, you have likely seen and/or heard a presentation about the equity framework informing EvCC work and its dimensions: aspiration, access, achievement, economic progress, and engagement. While the limited space of this blog post prohibits me from reviewing the underlying concepts of and explicating these dimensions, I think it is important to discuss what infusing equity means from a data and measurement standpoint.

Essentially, infusing equity means disaggregating data and trying to identify trends and patterns among different student and pathway characteristics. This is not a perfect way to examine equity; quantitative data and numbers don’t tell us everything, and inequities are rooted in broader systems. However, examining seven years’ worth of patterns (which we did for the data summit) helps to reveal inequitable patterns. It is important to interrogate these patterns and what they reveal about our institutions. Doing so helps us determine how our institution can work to achieve greater equity. The focus in doing this is on EvCC’s capacity and performance, not on the abilities of certain groups of students. This is an important point of emphasis. Identifying inequities and performance gaps identifies the ways in which we are underserving different groups of students, not on deficiencies of these students. It is up to EvCC to ensure that all students are successful; therefore, the equity gaps we uncover are a reflection on our ability to serve and educate all students.

Throughout this series, I will disaggregate our data by race, sex, age, and socioeconomic status. There is inherent imprecision in doing so as categories can be reductionist and labels are charged. However, when dealing with broader patterns, we must do this to identify how we are serving and underserving our students. This focus on equity is also a priority at the state level, as new recommendations for Student Achievement Initiative (SAI) focus on closing equity gaps for historically underrepresented and underserved racial and ethnic groups (African American or Black, Hispanic or Latinx, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian), as well as low-income students. The focus on these groups also aligns with our own internal goals and strategies for Strategic Enrollment Management.

Finally, I want to share a helpful description that I think encapsulates what we want to see in our data if we make progress toward equity: “As data on academic achievement and other student outcomes are disaggregated and analyzed, one sees high comparable performance for all identifiable groups of learners, and achievement and performance gaps are virtually non-existent” (Intercultural Development Research Association). The data I will share in the coming weeks will exhibit gaps, and the imperative of our work moving forward is to increase performance for all students while closing these gaps.

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