Step 1: Root Cause

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Review Current Data and Conduct a Root Cause Analysis

This is the first step in the Roadmap—an overview of the three steps can be found here, with links to the resources for each step of the process.

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Step 1: Review Current Data and Conduct a Root Cause Analysis

Step 1 Guidance Equity Plan Template

This tool is designed to help district leaders strategically plan for the equity plan by revisiting their existing equity plan to determine its efficacy and reviewing current district data.

District leaders will begin this process by reviewing their previous equity plan, determining the success of specific, existing strategies, and referring to current district data. Types of district data will include all data that pertains to effective instruction including but not limited to: student achievement data, student demographics, teacher experience, and certification for out-of-field. Then, district leaders will engage in conducting a root cause analysis described here in Step 1.

The RCA process centers on data review to identify possible root causes of the equity gap. The protocol guides teams through a process of identifying the perceived reasons they think they are facing each equitable access challenge and continuing to dive deeper until they believe they have reached the root causes that have resulted in their equitable access gaps. This is a data-driven activity that involves reviewing equity gaps and data, and interpreting the data to unearth the root causes of your district’s equity gaps. For example, are student populations who are growing academically at a slower pace than their peers doing so because they are more frequently taught by inexperienced or out-of-field teachers, or are they experiencing similar teachers as their peers? If so, what changes to hiring, teaching assignments, or master scheduling can the district make to rectify that difference? If these student populations are experiencing similar teachers, why are their teachers able to produce more growth in some student populations and less growth in others? What coaching and pedagogical support does the campus and district offer to teachers in these instances?

Step 1: Success Criteria

  • Review and reflect on the current equity plan by using the guiding questions to see which strategies have been successful and have significantly eliminated the identified gaps.
  • Provide a problem statement that is aligned to the findings in the equity gap analysis of current district data and focuses on the challenge of attracting, supporting, or retaining effective teachers in the highest need campuses serving low-income and students of color.
  • Provide root causes that are aligned to the problem statements as they relate to attracting, supporting, and retaining excellent teachers.
  • Engage with stakeholders in your district, including teachers, parents/guardians, and students, to gather their perceptions on the successes and challenges of the prior year’s equity plan to inform the development of this year’s equity plan. This feedback could be gathered during PTA meetings, staff meetings, or via surveys sent to stakeholder.
  • Completes tab 1 of the Equity planning template.

Download Success Criteria Document

Step 1: Implementation Tasks

Task 1: Review the current district equity plan to see which strategies have been successful and have significantly eliminated the identified gaps.

  • Determine which strategies to continue implementing and to include in the new plan (Step 2 Select Strategies and Plan Implementation) and which strategies to discontinue.

Task 2: Analyze your data to determine the connection between student growth and teacher effectiveness. Determine if out-of-field or inexperienced teachers are teaching students of color or low income students at higher rates or if they are largely taught by the same teachers as other student populations.

  • Districts also may choose to examine equitable access at the campus level, by grade level, or by subject area. Determination of access gaps (inexperienced or out-of-field) would require district staff to link individual student data to individual teacher data. This additional effort is worthwhile if districts want to examine equitable access from the student lens and within campuses. Recent research shows that even within a campus, there is inequitable student access to effective teachers. Campus, grade-level, and subject area analyses would allow districts to examine whether gaps are more common in certain grades or subjects versus other grades or subjects.

Task 3: Conduct the Data Dive and Understanding Your Problems of Practice Activity

  • This simple and straightforward activity often unearths useful new insights for informing policy and helps participants learn from others’ perspectives. By the end of the process, facilitators will gather the groups’ identified root causes and general comments to share with the district team, developing the strategies for the district equitable access plan.

Task 4: Collect feedback and complete closing

Download Step 1 Task Resource Documents Root Cause Analysis Step By Step