IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

Self-Affirmation as Resistance to Negative Stereotypes of Black and Latino Students

As part of our 20th anniversary celebration and in recognition of Black History Month, we asked Dr. Jason Snipes, Director of Applied Research for REL-West at WestEd, to discuss his inspiration for his IES-funded replication study. The purpose of the study is to test the potential of self-affirmation interventions to counteract the harmful effects of negative racial stereotypes on the academic, disciplinary, and psychosocial outcomes of 7th grade Black and Latino students.

Head shot of Dr. Jason SnipeWhat motivates your research on the effects of self-affirmation interventions on Black and Latino student outcomes?

My mother was a civil rights activist, and I was raised with a clear sense of my history as a Black person and the importance of making a contribution worthy of those that preceded me. Her example inspired me to pursue a career in research on education and youth development and to focus on finding, testing, and understanding strategies for improving outcomes for the Black, Latino, and other students systematically underserved by our education system.

My specific interest in stereotype threat and self-affirmation research stems in part from my own education experiences. I still remember how—despite being in the gifted and talented program at my elementary school—every mistake I made, every question I asked, every idea I expressed was greeted with the snickers and whispers of my peers crudely expressing their doubts about my intelligence. I remember my success slipping away, and before I knew it, being in 8th grade remedial math—failing. My father essentially saved my life. He somehow taught me to truly believe that I could accomplish anything I wanted to. This is not a solution to systemic racism. Still, his support for changing my beliefs about myself, combined with going to a new high school, completely changed my academic trajectory.

I again felt the weight and pressure of low expectations in graduate school, in the subtle and not-so-subtle ways my White professors expressed their doubts about my ability to succeed in a rigorous PhD program.

So, later in my career, when I learned about stereotype threat and self-affirmation, I saw a bit of myself and my life experiences. I saw something else that I found unusual: an intervention with significant effects, even when tested in rigorous randomized trials. I wanted to know more about where, how, and under what circumstances it could be effectively used support Black and Brown children.

What is stereotype threat and how might it impact Black students?

Among Black students, stereotype threat is the fear of confirming negative racial stereotypes about their academic performance and their underlying intelligence. It can be one of the many persistent and pervasive psychological stressors that Black people encounter on a daily basis. Randomized trials show that when prompted to believe a test is an assessment of their intelligence, Black students perform more poorly. The prompt generates physiological and psychological stress responses, reduces available working memory, and results in both fewer questions answered in a given period of time and a lower percentage of correct answers among those given. The same prompt has no effect on White or Asian students. A meta-analysis of 300 studies suggests stereotype threat accounts for a quarter to a third of the Black-White and Latino-White achievement gaps.

How does the self-affirmation intervention you are evaluating address stereotype threat?

The self-affirmation intervention, created by Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson, is designed to respond to stereotype threat. It’s a set of four 15-minute writing exercises administered over the course of a school year. Each exercise provides students with the opportunity to affirm their value by asking them to write about things that are important to them. Experiments with college and middle school students show that self-affirmation improves a variety of academic outcomes for Black students, and that that these effects persist and grow over time.

Our study goes beyond prior research to provide new evidence about the impact of self-affirmation on Black and Latinx students in schools with different demographic compositions and the extent to which its effects generalize across a nationally representative sample of schools. Some studies suggest that self-affirmations effects are smaller in schools with higher concentrations of Black and/or Latino students. We plan to systematically explore this and other questions about moderators. Our findings will have implications for the settings in which self-affirmation ought to be scaled and implemented and how it might be used as a complement to other available supports to bolster the success of Black and Latinx students.

That stereotype threat appears to account for a quarter of observed racial achievement gaps, and that self-affirmation ameliorates this effect makes self-affirmation relevant to larger discussions of educational equity. Self-affirmation, along with other psychosocial interventions, should be investigated as potential tools for reducing racial disparities in education outcomes. That said, it is important to remember that racial inequity is a feature of the education system and the institutions that surround it, not a function of some sort of “flaw” in the attitudes or psychosocial make up of Black and Brown students themselves. While these approaches may help buffer Black and Latino students against the full consequences of racism, bias, and stereotyping, we should never allow ourselves to be confused. The fundamental problem is not Black and Latino students’ ability to cope with these dynamics, but the presence of these dynamics in and of themselves. Furthermore, psychosocial interventions are not a substitute for high quality instruction or solutions to other systemic problems (for example, de facto segregation) that have powerful negative effects on academic outcomes among Black and Latino students.

Self-affirmation is also relevant to discussions of racial equity in education because the intervention reflects a fundamental concept underlying racial equity: personhood. It offers students a chance to affirm their value as human beings, and this may be one of the mechanisms through which it helps disrupts the destructive cycle of stereotype threat. This simple assertion embodies a core idea underlying the civil rights movement: that racial equity requires recognizing and treating Black and Brown people as fully human.   

Your current IES study aims to replicate prior research on self-affirmation. Why is replication important?

Too often, I have seen researchers, policy makers, practitioners, and funders make the mistake of misinterpreting results from a single, even rigorously designed, study as answering the question of whether an intervention or strategy works. Reality is more complex. What we can learn from a single study is usually something closer to the extent to which an approach worked in this place (or places) at this time. Under pressure for answers to pressing policy problems, we may rush to scale approaches or interventions with evidence from one or two well designed studies, only to find out that they don’t work at scale, or in a subsequent implementation, and we don’t know why.

It may be better to ask, “To what extent does an approach generate impacts, under what circumstances does it do so, and why?” Systematically replicating initial causal studies, enables researchers to address these questions more effectively. Rather than guessing at post hoc explanations of the patterns we observe, replication systematically tests hypotheses regarding how implementation, context, and other moderators and mediators affect program impacts. Doing so prior to undertaking massive scaling efforts therefore helps reduce the extent to which money, effort, and, perhaps most importantly, public will, are expended on strategies with fundamental limitations. Replication enables us to more systemically study and understand mechanisms of action, improving the extent to which we implement or scale interventions in contexts and situations in which they are likely to be most effective.


This blog was produced by Katina Stapleton (Katina.Stapleton@ed.gov) and Corinne Alfeld (Corinne.Alfeld@ed.gov), NCER Program Officers.

NCER Adult Education and Adult Foundational Skills Research: Defining the Scope and Introducing the Investment

Adults sitting in rows of desks holding digital devices.

As part of the IES 20th Anniversary celebration, we are highlighting NCER’s investments in field-initiated research. In the Adult Education and Adult Foundational Skills series, NCER will be spotlighting researchers and projects and sharing information about research to improve outcomes for adult learners.

In this opening blog, program officer Dr. Meredith Larson defines NCER’s use of the terms adult education and adult foundational skills, which have specific meaning and scope for IES research. Dr. Larson also describes who the adult learners are, why research in this area is important, and the research NCER has supported.

How does NCER define Adult Education and Adult Foundational Skills?

NCER uses the term adult education to refer to a system legislatively defined in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The adult education system serves learners who are at least 16 years old and not enrolled in K-12 through programs such as adult basic education, adult secondary education, integrated education training, family literacy, and integrated English language and civics.

By adult foundational skills, NCER means the common academic skills—such as literacy (reading, writing, listening), English language proficiency, and numeracy—that are necessary for participating in college or career. Nowadays, digital literacy and digital skills are emerging as foundational skills.

As researchers and practitioners in this field discuss how to define their work and purpose, NCER’s use of the terms may evolve

How many U.S. adults have low foundational skills?

Data from the 2017 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) indicate that roughly 114 to 135 million U.S. adults may have significant or moderate skill gaps in reading or numeracy, with approximately 48 million (23 percent) of adults having significantly low literacy and 69 million (33 percent) having significant low numeracy skill. Having low foundational skills may impede adults’ ability to pursue education or training, participate fully in the workforce, or engage civically.

What is the adult education system like?

Although millions of U.S. adults may benefit from building foundational skills, the adult education system and programs focus on adults with significant skill gaps and those who lack a high school diploma or equivalent.

Adult learners who enter into this system vary widely. They can include people from all regions, races, ethnicities, age groups, and levels of academic attainment, including those with no formal education to those with advanced degrees from other countries. They may be parents, workers, or retirees. They may seek out programs to learn how to read, earn a high school diploma, prepare for employment or college, or pass a citizenship test. The educators who teach adult learners are also diverse. Some have teaching certification, but many do not. The majority of them are part-time. There is also a wide variety of program providers (community colleges, community-based organizations, LEAs, etc.), relevant policies (federal, state, local), and funding sources. The National Reporting System for Adult Education includes descriptive data on students and programs reported to the US Department of Education as part of annual reporting requirements for grantees.

Why is research on this area important? What types of work has NCER supported?

Because of the diversity of learners in the system and the complexity of the system itself, the way forward maybe be unclear without a solid research base to inform policy and practice. Research can provide the knowledge, innovations, and evidence that can help learners, educators, and policymakers make informed choices and decision.

The adult education and foundational skills research portfolio at NCER is small but expanding. Between 2004 and 2021, NCER has invested approximately $51.8 million across 27 awards (grants and contracts) relevant to adults with low foundational skills who are in or eligible for adult education services. Please see a list of the NCER adult education and foundational skills projects funded since 2004: Word file or PDF file).

In the early years of NCER, research addressing adult education and foundational skills tended to focus only on reading, and adults were not the primary or sole focus of the study. Over time, this research has grown to encompass additional skills and education policy, and more studies focused primarily on adults served by the adult education system. The earliest NCER study in this set was funded in 2004 and is a direct ancestor to a 2016 grant to validate a reading assessment specifically for adult struggling readers. Other adult education projects have also built off of early NCER work and have inspired other projects. For example, NCER’s first adult education research and development center, the Center for the Study of Adult Skills (CSAL), incorporated work from one of NCER’s first grants in 2002 and led subsequent development research. Multiple awards in the adult education portfolio also use the PIAAC, as a resource for both research (see here, here, and here) and training grants.

What is on the horizon for NCER research?

One significant recent trend in this portfolio has been the expanding role of technology and digital skills. From CSAL to the CREATE Adult Skills Network and to projects exploring adult problem solving in digital environments, NCER researchers are building knowledge and developing interventions that focus on technology and adult learners’ ability to benefit from technology.

In particular, the CREATE Adult Skills Network is bringing together multiple research teams around technology to support reading, writing, math, professional development, civics/history and English language instruction, and assessment. CREATE is also helping to disseminate information about the role of technology in adult education and the importance of developing adults’ foundational skills.

How can people learn more?

Please visit the project homepage for the CREATE Adult Skills Network and sign up for their newsletters. The network also hosts blogs and podcasts, both of which include discussions of research. People can also visit the IES-wide topic page for adult skills, which curates examples of the work happening across IES relevant to adult education or adult foundational skills.


Dr. Meredith Larson (Meredith.Larson@ed.gov) is a research analyst and program officer at NCER. Her focus areas include postsecondary teaching and learning, adult education, and postdoctoral research training. She was trained in cognitive and instructional psychology and psycholinguistics and has served as a volunteer tutor for refugee children and in adult basic and adult secondary education programs.

From Protégé to Mentor: The Roles of HBCUs and Mentoring in Developing Future Education Researchers

In recognition of Black History Month, we asked Dr. Wynetta Lee, Professor, School Administration Program and PI of the IES-funded Research Institute for Scholars of Equity (RISE) Pathways training program at North Caroline Central University (NCCU), to discuss the roles of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and mentoring in the development of the next generation of education researchers.

In this photo, RISE fellows visit VEST, the University of Virginia’s IES-funded predoctoral training program. Pictured in the front row starting 4th from the left are RISE PI Wynetta Lee, VEST PI Sara Rimm-Kauffman, and RISE PI Marta Sanchez (deceased). 

 

How have HBCUs shaped your scholarship and career?

I am fortunate to be a third-generation college student—both of my parents and one grandparent attended HBCUs. That makes me a product of HBCUs even though I did not attend one as a student.  During my childhood, my teachers were also trained at HBCUs.  At the risk of dating myself, it is important to note that I was born at a time and in a place where education was mandated by law to be delivered in segregated spaces. This system of education certainly carried a long list of undesirable outcomes. 

I have heard it said that education is a social process, and I count myself as privileged to start my educational journey in an environment that was nurturing and inclusive, yet individualistic when needed. During my elementary school days, everyone in my educational community treated me as if I were their protégé. I had my own village of mentors—all of whom were on the same page when it came to my future. My mentors prepared me for the inevitable experience of desegregation and remained connected to me over my lifetime. They taught me that solid relationships are based on mutual trust, respect, and benefits. They also taught me that not all relationships are the same, yet there is something to be learned from each relationship if you pay attention.

In college, I found another village of mentors who were trained at HBCUs, and they too were on the same page when it came to my future. These scholars mentored me to degree completion and beyond. They gently but clearly pushed me toward graduate education and a career in higher education. They saw potential in me that I did not see in myself. This set me on a path to center my work around issues of educational equity and educational experiences in college.

Professionally, most of my academic career has been at HBCUs. What I have come to appreciate about HBCUs is that the ideal of “students first” is more than a phrase; it is a pillar of campus culture. HBCU students are not simply seen as brains waiting to be filled with knowledge. Rather, I have found that HBCUs operate as a community committed to addressing the academic, social, emotional, financial, and spiritual needs of students within their respective resources, which creates a natural environment for creating a village of mentoring.

What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered, and how did you overcome the challenge?

I have had many experiences with being in the minority and with being “the only one” in a variety of contexts. I would say that the biggest recurring challenge I have encountered in higher education is being judged by people’s perceptions rather than by my skills. There are many things that helped me to overcome this challenge, such as having grit, choosing a positive outlook, and mentally playing out possible reactions to their likely conclusion prior to reacting to the challenge.  However, I think the mentoring relationships that I have been part of over the years is what helped and continues to help me most. Receiving advice from a mentor you trust and who knows you well is an invaluable asset.

What advice would you give to emerging scholars from underrepresented, minoritized groups that are pursuing a career in education research?

My best advice is to develop a community of mentors. Seek out an education researcher to be one of your mentors. It is important to know that pursuing a career in education research does not need to be a solitary journey on a one-way highway. Mentors will help you in ways that you do not know you need and can connect you with opportunities. Also, do not underestimate the value of peer mentors. They have shared experiences with you and perspectives that can give you clarity, and they can be a strong source of support.

How does your research contribute to a better understanding of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in education?

I am privileged to serve as the principal investigator for RISE at NCCU, which is an HBCU in Durham, NC. RISE seeks to develop a cadre of future researchers who know the rules of rigor and ethics in social science research and can pursue research through a culturally competent lens. While not all RISE fellows may ultimately pursue a career in education research, each will be aware of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in education and can push for it from their respective worlds of work.

How can the broader education research community better support the careers and scholarship of researchers from underrepresented groups?

The broader education research community can better support the careers and scholarship of researchers from underrepresented groups by making it a priority to do so and investing resources.   

It is important to spread the word that education research is a viable career choice. Students from underrepresented groups are often first-generation college students. These students know about careers in education because they engaged with teachers, principals, and counselors prior to college. However, the students I have encountered over the years—including graduate students—know nothing about a career in education research. People cannot pursue what they do not know.

Mentoring is the cornerstone of RISE. Our mentors share what fellows need to know for success through teaching, sharing experiences, providing opportunities, and through the development of mutually beneficial relationships that are safe spaces. Creating more formal and informal mentorship opportunities within the education research field is crucial to supporting the careers of all scholars, but particularly those from underrepresented groups.

Finally, the broader education research community can also better support the careers and scholarship of researchers from underrepresented groups by being more welcoming of those who do pursue education research careers and by inviting collaborative relationships as they evolve professionally.


Produced by Katina Stapleton (Katina.Stapleton@ed.gov), co-Chair of the IES Diversity and Inclusion Council. She is also the program officer for the Pathways to the Education Sciences Research Training Program and the new Early Career Mentoring Program for Faculty at Minority Serving Institutions, the two IES training programs for minority serving institutions.

Variation Matters: A Look at CTE Under Distinctive Policy and Programming Conditions

Young diverse students learning together at stem robotics class - Hispanic Latina female building electronic circuits at school

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) month! As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we want to highlight the great work our CTE Research Network (CTERN) continues to accomplish. This guest blog was written by James Kemple, Director of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools and the principal investigator (PI) of a CTERN research project that is examining CTE in New York City.

While “college and career readiness” are familiar buzzwords in K-12 education, it has often seemed like system leaders shout “college” and whisper “career.” During the last decade, as it has become clear that a high school diploma has limited value in the 21st century labor market, career and technical education (CTE) has become a more prominent way to explicitly prepare students for both college and career. For the CTE field to evolve productively, valid and reliable evidence should inform policy and practice, for example by identifying conditions under which CTE may be more or less effective and for whom.

CTE and College and Career Readiness in New York City

One such project is our ongoing study of New York City’s CTE programs. The current phase of the study focuses on 37 CTE-dedicated high schools, which are structured to ensure that all enrolled students participate in a CTE Program of Study from 9th through 12th grade. These programs are organized around an industry-aligned theme (for example, construction, IT, health services, etc.) and offer a sequence of career-focused courses, work-based learning opportunities, and access to aligned college-level coursework. Our study uses an especially rigorous approach to compare the experiences and outcomes of nearly 19,000 NYC students who were assigned to a CTE-dedicated high school between 2013 and 2016 with those of similar students who also applied to CTE programs but were assigned to another high school during the same period.

When our research team looked at the overall impact of 37 CTE-dedicated high schools in NYC, we found that CTE students graduated from these high schools and enrolled in college at rates that were similar to their counterparts in non-CTE high schools. On average, therefore, being in a CTE high school did not steer students away from a college pathway.

Variations in CTE Programs

A much more interesting story emerged when we took a closer look at variation in student experiences and outcomes. In fact, some of the schools produced statistically significant reductions in immediate college enrollment, while others produced increases in the rate at which students enrolled in college.  Why might this be?

The study team identified two possible reasons. First, the schools in our sample differed based on the policy context in which they were created: 21 of the schools were established after 2008 as the NYCDOE undertook a major expansion of CTE in the midst of a larger overhaul of the city’s high schools that included closing persistently low-performing schools, opening new small schools in their place, and creating a universal high school admissions system that gave students access to schools across the city. In contrast to the 16 longstanding CTE high schools—some of which dated back to the early 1900s—these new high schools were smaller, with more thematically aligned sets of CTE programs, and non-selective admission processes. Most of the longstanding CTE schools used test scores, grades, or other performance measures as part of their admissions criteria.

Second, the schools in the study differed in terms of their intended career pathways—and the extent to which these career pathways require a post-secondary credential for entry-level jobs. Notably, nine of the newer (post-2008) high schools focused on career pathways that were likely to require a bachelor’s degree (referred to “college aligned”). CTE programs in the remaining 12 newer high schools and all of the CTE programs in the 16 longstanding high schools focused on either “workforce-aligned” career pathways—allowing students to enter the labor market directly after high school—or “mixed” pathways that require additional technical training or an associate degree for entry-level jobs. Interestingly, each of these groups of schools included a mix of CTE career themes. For example, some health- or technology-focused CTE programs reflected college-aligned pathways, while other programs with these themes reflected workforce-aligned pathways.

We found that the newer, smaller, less selective CTE schools with more tightly aligned career themes had positive effects on key outcomes—particularly those that were focused on college-intended career paths. These schools produced a substantial, positive, statistically significant impact on college enrollment rates. Students in these schools were nearly 10 percentage points more likely to enroll in a four-year college than those in the non-CTE comparison group.

By contrast, the larger, more selective CTE schools, with a range of work-aligned career pathways, were associated with null or negative effects on key outcomes. Notably, these schools actually reduced four-year college enrollment rates.

Applying Lessons Learned

The extraordinary diversity of NYC’s CTE landscape and its student population provides a unique opportunity to gather information about program implementation, quality, accessibility, and costs, and about how these factors influence CTE’s impacts on college and career readiness. A recent report from the project provides new insights into strategies for learning from variation in CTE programs and contexts, as well as particular policies and programming conditions that may enhance or limit college and career readiness.

Recent efforts to enhance CTE, including those underway in NYC, wisely focus on such key elements as rigorous and relevant CTE course sequences, robust work-based learning opportunities, and articulated partnerships with employers and post-secondary education institutions. The findings from this study point to additional conditions that are likely to interact with these curricular and co-curricular elements of CTE—such as providing students with smaller, more personalized learning environments; using inclusive (less selective) admissions policies; and aligning high school requirements with post-secondary options. It will be crucial for policymakers to attend to these conditions as they work to strengthen students’ pathways into college and careers.

Finally, it is important to note that we do not yet have all the information needed to fully discern the impact of NYC’s diverse CTE options. Data on employment and earnings will be crucial to understanding whether students in these schools opted to enter the workforce instead of, or prior to, enrolling in college—and how these decisions affected their longer-term trajectories.


This blog was produced by Corinne Alfeld (Corinne.Alfeld@ed.gov), program officer, NCER.

 

CTE Research Through an Equity Lens

This image depicts six considerations for centering equity in CTE research:  Ensure transparency: Be clear about the why, the what, and the who Involve the community: Obtain feedback from research participants throughout the process Develop diverse teams: Ensure teams represent varied perspectives and are trained in equity-based research perspective Take a systems approach: Be cognizant of historical issues of inequity within vocational education Acknowledge and attend to bias: Consider how bias is present in different parts of research Demonstrate respect: Bring an asset-based perspective

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) month! As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we want to highlight the great work our CTE Research Network (CTERN) continues to accomplish. The blog below highlights NCER’s conversation with the Equity Working Group of the IES-funded CTE Research Network

The Equity Working Group (EWG) of the CTE Research Network (CTERN) has published a new resource for researchers on using an equity lens in developing and conducting CTE research: The Equity Framework for CTE Research. CTERN is hosting a free webinar on February 21st at 3:00 Eastern to provide an overview of the framework and how people can use it. In this blog, members of the Equity Working Group answered questions about the framework and why it is important. 

The framework has a focus on equity, but equity can mean different things to different people. How does the EWG define equity in this framework?

We strongly believe that every student should have the opportunity to engage in quality educational experiences. Students who are interested should have access to CTE programs, regardless of their background characteristics. And school systems should invest in students so that they can succeed in these programs. Ultimately, we find ourselves quoting the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s definition because it neatly captures our position: “Every student has access to the educational resources and rigor they need at the right moment in their education across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, sexual orientation, family background, and/or family income.”

Why did the EWG members believe that there was a need for an equity framework for CTE research?

CTE has a long and complicated history, including extensive tracking under its previous incarnation as vocational education. The CTE Equity Working Group was very conscious of this history and wanted to take steps to help ensure that CTE research was helping to ameliorate current inequities. As we say in the framework, “We believe that infusing equity throughout our research is critical to ensuring that research can make a difference in promoting equitable learning experiences and outcomes for all students who participate in CTE.”

We also recognized that many researchers (including ourselves) want to use an equity lens to do their research but lack practical guidance in what that looks like. The working group believed that a framework with concrete examples and tips would help CTE researchers have a clearer picture of what to do and would provide a tool for helping them think differently about their work.

How did the EWG create the framework?

This was a collaborative process that grew out of our first CTE Research Network meeting in 2018 or 2019. A group of us realized that incorporating an equity lens into our work would help us better answer questions that matter to communities. We decided to form a working group, which ended up including around 20 or so researchers, practitioners, and policy staff. We read a lot of good frameworks from different organizations on improving our research practices, so we decided to invest our energy in seeing how it may be applied to a CTE context.

How is the framework structured and what are some key takeaways?

It is important to note what this framework is and is not. This framework is not intended as a methodological primer or a replication of existing research guidance; it is intended to encourage researchers to think about their own work through an equity lens.

The framework starts with a brief history of equity in CTE, a description of the process of creating the framework, a list of vocabulary (we believe having a common language is critical), and a statement of the values that underlie the framework.

The rest of the framework is then organized by six stages of research: 1) project management; 2) research design, 3) measurement and data collection, 4) data analysis, 5) cost and resource equity, and 6) reporting and dissemination. In each section, we include a description of how to implement the stage with an equity-focused lens, with questions for researchers to consider and potential barriers. Throughout, we have included examples from current and future CTE research. We are looking for more examples, so people should feel free to reach out to us at jedmunds@serve.org to share how they are doing this work.

In creating summary products to go along with the framework, we identified six themes that cut across the different stages: ensure transparency, involve the community, develop diverse teams, take a systems approach, acknowledge and attend to bias, and demonstrate respect. These themes are summarized in an infographic.

How do you hope that people will use the framework?

We hope this will help start or further conversations among CTE researchers. We structured the framework around each stage of the research process, so anyone engaging in this work can find elements to incorporate or questions to consider individually and as a team, regardless of where they are in their work right now. For studies just getting off the ground, we did our best to illustrate how researchers can build an equity approach from the start of a project through its completion.

What are some examples of how the framework changed individual EWG members’ research practices?

Julie A. Edmunds (co-facilitator): Working on the framework has crystallized three high-impact equity-focused practices that I now try to infuse throughout my work. First, I pay much more attention to the role of systems in inequities. I try to look at upstream factors that might be causing disparities in educational outcomes as opposed to just documenting gaps that might exist between sub-groups. Second, when presenting those gaps (which we still do because it is useful information), I am much more conscious about how those gaps are displayed. For example, we focus on making sure that “White” is not considered the default category against which all others are compared. Third, we are creating processes to ensure that we share our findings with people who gave us the data. For example, we are sending practitioner-friendly products (such as briefs or infographics) to the school staff we interviewed whose insights formed the basis for some of our findings.

John Sludden (member): The framework has helped us think about our internal processes and keeps us focused on our audience, who we’re doing this for. I’m an analyst on the project, and I’ve been empowered to ask questions, conduct analyses, and present to our research partners at the New York City Department of Education. We’re currently thinking about ways to communicate findings to different audiences. At the moment, we’re working on a plan to share findings with principals of CTE high schools in New York City. Organizationally, we are also working on ways to directly engage students in the city, who know more about the system than we ever will. Similar to Julie, analytically, we have spent a lot of our time and attention on looking at the conditions under which students have not been well-served by the system, and ways that students may be better served by CTE.


This blog was produced by Corinne Alfeld (Corinne.Alfeld@ed.gov), program officer, NCER.