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August 2019

Ask A REL Question:

What data should school administrators look at to determine inequity in their schools and what does research say about the importance of using data (of various sorts) to examine and address issues of culturally relevant teaching?


Thank you for the question you submitted to our REL Reference Desk regarding data school administrators should use to determine inequity in schools and the importance of using data to examine and address issues of culturally relevant teaching. We have prepared the following memo with research references to help answer your question. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. The references are selected from the most commonly used research resources and may not be comprehensive. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Other relevant studies may exist. We have not evaluated the quality of these references, but provide them for your information only.

Research References

  1. Eagle, D. L. & Glenn, W. J. (2018). Teacher absences in the commonwealth of Virginia: An analysis of patterns and predictors and implications for policy. Journal of School Administration Research and Development, 3(1), 32-41.
    Retrieved from:
    From the abstract: “The purpose of this study was to analyze selected variables for public schools and districts in Virginia to determine the relationship of school and policy characteristics to teacher absences. This study included two research questions: What is the relationship between certain school district policy provisions and teacher absenteeism? What is the relationship between certain school characteristics and teacher absenteeism? The analysis for this study involved computing descriptive statistics, correlating continuous variables, and running multiple regressions for each dataset (school and district for each year) to determine the predictors of the dependent variable, chronically absent teachers. Although the school models were significant, neither was a particularly strong predictor of chronically absent teachers, only accounting for 15.2% of variation (2011- 2012 model with R2 = 0.152) and 9.6% of variation (2013-2014 model with R2 = 0.096) that is predicted by the independent variables. Nevertheless, there were independent policy and school variables that were significant predictors in both school years. The most prominent variables included total leave, personal leave maximums, income protection provisions (sick leave banks, short-term disability), free and reduced lunch population percentage of a school, pupil/teacher ratio of the school, and the grade level of the school (elementary, middle, and high).”
  2. Hernandez, F. & Marshall, J. (2017). Auditing inequity: Teaching aspiring administrators to be social justice leaders. Education and Urban Society, 49(2), 203-228.
    Retrieved from:
    Full text available at
    From the abstract: “While much has been written about preparing educational leaders to lead for social justice, much less has been written about how to do so. This study is one of the first to analyze the reflections and written assignments of aspiring administrators to determine what they are currently thinking about poverty, race/ethnicity, and social justice leadership and how that thinking is shaped throughout one course. Results indicate that students were variable in their individual reflections, but that assignments, which required them to analyze the inequities in their schools and develop an implementation plan, led all of these aspiring administrators to seek to redress those inequities. The article discusses implications for other programs, which prepare educational leaders.”
  3. Jankov, P. & Caref, C. (2017). Segregation and inequality in Chicago public schools, transformed and intensified under corporate education reform. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25(56).
    Retrieved from:
    From the abstract: “During the period of 1981 to 2015, the total population of Black students in CPS plummeted from close to 240,000, 60% of all CPS students, to 156,000 or 39% of CPS. This paper documents how despite their decreasing numbers and percentage in the system, the vast majority of Black students remained isolated in predominantly low-income Black schools that also became the target of destabilizing corporate reforms and experimentation. This study examines the historic and contemporary dual segregation of Black teachers and Black students in Chicago Public Schools, and how mass school closures, privatization, and corporate school reform have both transformed and deepened segregation and resource-inequity across Chicago's schools.”
  4. Kelly-McHale, J. (2019). Research-to-resource: Developing culturally responsive mind- set in elementary general music. National Association for Music Education, 37(2), 11-14.
    Retrieved from:
    Full text available at 8k8biLKXpTFzIXLzV7dn3tQ
    From the abstract: “The terms "culturally responsive teaching" and "culturally responsive pedagogy" have become more common in the vernacular of public-school teaching. However, practical applications of cultural responsivity are not often clearly presented due to the nature of being responsive. Responsivity requires knowledge of students and community (context) specific to each teaching context. Content and materials should then be derived from the development of the contextual understanding. This is why presenting a "tool box" of culturally responsive practices is not possible when seeking to become more culturally responsive in the classroom. This article seeks to situate cultural responsivity as a mind-set as opposed to an approach or method within the elementary general music classroom. Practical steps that can be taken toward the development of this mind-set are then presented with a focus on context and content.”
  5. Linan-Thompson, S., Lara-Martinez, J. A., & Cavazos, L. O. (2018). Exploring the intersection of evidence-based practices and culturally and linguistically responsive practices. Intervention in School and Clinic, 54(1), 6-13.
    Retrieved from:
    Full text available at
    From the abstract: “Culturally and linguistically diverse learners with and without learning disabilities enrolled in public schools are tasked with learning content, a new culture, and a new language. Meeting their language and literacy needs requires systematic use of evidence-based practices and deep knowledge of culturally and linguistically responsive practices that address their instructional, social, and language needs. Based on observations of teachers in multilingual classroom, four culturally and linguistically responsive practice were identified: (a) consistent use of evidence-based instructional practices for students who are English learners, (b) integration of culturally responsive pedagogy with evidence-based instructional practices, (c) use of relational interaction practices that build trust and respect between teachers and students, and (d) use of flexible language practices. Vignettes of actual observation data contrast typical practice and culturally and linguistically responsive practice.”
  6. Lochmiller, C. R., Adachi, E., Chesnut, C. E., & Johnson, J. (2016). Retention, attrition, and mobility among teachers and administrators in West Virginia (REL 2016-161). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia.
    Retrieved from:
    From the abstract: “Members of the West Virginia School Leadership Research Alliance partnered with Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia to study the average retention, attrition, and mobility rates among teachers and administrators in the West Virginia public school system. There is increasing evidence nationwide that low teacher and administrator retention rates adversely affect student academic outcomes, particularly in reading and math, which are reform priorities in many states (B├ęteille, Kalogrides, & Loeb, 2012; Branch, Hanushek, & Rivkin, 2012; Kane & Staiger, 2008; Ronfeldt, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2013). West Virginia policymakers and educators have thus expressed interest in increasing teacher and administrator retention rates to improve student achievement. This report provides descriptive information about retention, attrition, and mobility among teachers and administrators that can be used to inform policy and program decision making in West Virginia. The analyses were based on personnel data for teachers and administrators provided by the West Virginia Department of Education for the academic years 2008/09-2012/13, as well as district information covering the same years from the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data. Unless otherwise stated, the retention, attrition, and mobility rates are annual averages for the academic years examined. Three appendices are included: (1) Data and methodology; (2) Average retention, attrition, and mobility rates among teachers and administrators by West Virginia public school district (data table); and (3) Cumulative attrition rates among beginning teachers in West Virginia public school districts (data table).”
  7. Mensah, F. M. & Jackson, I. (2018). Whiteness as property in science teacher education. Teachers College Record, 120(1), 1-38.
    Retrieved from:
    Full text available at
    From the abstract: “Background/Context: The disparity between the race and ethnicity of teachers and students is expected to increase as our nation and classrooms continue to become more racially, ethnically, linguistically, and economically diverse. It is extremely important to think about not only the educational needs of such a diverse student population within schools but also who will teach these students. However, when looking at subject-matter specificity for the retention of Teachers of Color, such as science teachers, the picture becomes extremely serious when we understand teachers' paths into and out of science and teaching. Purpose: The purpose of the study is to analyze the experiences of preservice Teachers of Color (PTOC) enrolled in an elementary science methods course as they gain access to science as White property. Our analysis provides evidence that PTOC can break the perpetual cycle of alienation, exclusion, and inequity in science when they are given opportunities to engage in science as learners and teachers. In addition, we also offer insights regarding the role science teacher educators may play in preparing teachers and especially TOC for urban schools. Setting/Research Design: The context of this study was a graduate-level preservice elementary science methods course at a large urban university in New York City. Multiple data sources included pre-post surveys, semester observation journals, final course papers, and a post-course questionnaire. Utilizing constructivist grounded during the initial phase of analysis and themes from critical race theory (CRT), our unique voices of color and positionalities allowed us to interpret the data from a CRT perspective and arrive at findings relevant to making science inclusive to PTOC. Conclusions/Recommendations: In order to push the field of science teacher education toward social justice issues of access, opportunity, and enjoyment, efforts must focus on increasing representation of Teachers of Color in science education. The transformation of science teacher education to grant equitable learning experiences for Teachers of Color is needed. Further research on the experiences of science Teachers of Color, as well as Faculty of Color and their relationship with students, is highly encouraged. Both teacher preparation and science education must be open to interrogate and reveal structural forms of race, racism, and power that manifest through curriculum, structure, and pedagogy that cause alienation and exclusion for Teachers of Color. Therefore, we encourage science teacher educators to examine their own course curriculum, structure, and pedagogy through self-study and reflection. Overall practices in teacher preparation must empower rather than impede progress toward important goals of CRT, and this may be achieved through building stronger relationships with PTOC and Faculty of Color across teacher preparation courses in support of these goals.”
  8. Shah, N., Reinholz, D., Guzman, L., Bradfield, K., Beaudine, G., & Low, S. (2016). Equitable participation in a mathematics classroom from a quantitative perspective. North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education.
    Retrieved from:
    From the abstract: “Inequity is a pressing concern in the mathematics education community. Recent research shows how inequity in everyday classroom interaction can shape student participation in subtle ways. This paper focuses on a tool, EQUIP, which uses a quantitative approach to illuminate aspects of such inequities. EQUIP cross- tabulates relatively low-inference indicators of classroom interaction with demographics (e.g., gender, race), in order to highlight inequities in participation across different groups of students in a given classroom. We present analyses of whole-class discussions in an elementary mathematics classroom taught by an experienced teacher with strong commitments to equity. Findings show that even though in most ways participation was distributed equally by gender and race, an intersectional analysis revealed statistically significant inequities for Latin@ male student participation.”
  9. Sun, M. (2018). Black teachers’ retention and transfer patterns in North Carolina: How do patterns vary by teacher effectiveness, subject, and school conditions? AERA Open, 4(3), 1-23.
    Retrieved from:
    From the abstract: “Despite public interest and government action toward diversifying the teaching workforce in U.S. public schools, our knowledge about the retention and transfer patterns of Black teachers lacks specificity and clarity. In this study, I find that Black teachers' annual retention rate was about 4 percentage points lower than that of White teachers in North Carolina elementary and secondary schools from 2004 to 2015. This Black-White teacher retention gap can largely be explained by Black teachers' experience and education and the challenging school and community contexts in which these teachers worked. Compared with White teachers who had similar professional attributes and worked in similar school settings, Black teachers were more likely to stay in schools serving a larger proportion of Black students and to move to a school that served a higher proportion of Black students. The marginal probability of Black teachers' retention received an additional boost with an increase in teachers' observational ratings and math value-added scores. Stronger school leadership and higher-quality professional development predict a higher retention rate of more effective Black teachers.”
  10. Sykes, G. & Martin, K. (2019). Equitable access to capable teachers: The states respond. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 27(39), 1-47.
    Retrieved from:
    From the abstract: “This study examined a sample of plans that states submitted to the U.S. Education Department in 2015, pursuant to requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title I, Part A. Plans were aimed at redressing inequities in access to qualified teachers as this problem has emerged in states and districts across the country. A considerable body of research has demonstrated that teachers are inequitably distributed to the disadvantage of low income and historically under-served students. Based on descriptive and inferential coding of these plans, the study reaches several conclusions. First, the federal planning mandate has served as an impetus for developing state data systems that track teacher distributions. Second, many of the strategies states are proposing are not directly relevant, targeted, or fully committed in terms of resources and implementation. Third, in states with highly rated plans, the strategies address fundamental, underlying conditions while offering a comprehensive range of targeted strategies to improve recruitment, support, and retention of teachers in schools serving concentrations of low income and under-served students. Progress on this issue is underway with much that remains to be done.”

Additional Organizations to Consult

  • Center for Education Equity:
    From the website: MAEC established the Center for Education Equity (CEE) to address problems in public schools caused by segregation and inequities. As the Region I equity assistance center, CEE works to improve and sustain the systemic capacity of public education to increase outcomes for students regardless of race, gender, religion, and national origin. CEE is funded by the US Department of Education under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
  • The Equity Project:
    From the website: “The Equity Project at AIR is committed to building an inclusive and vibrant future through education. The project's mission is to use the breadth and depth of AIR's education research, policy, and practice experience to increase educational opportunities for all American children, especially minority children and children from low-income households.”


Search Strings. Data use culturally relevant teaching OR data importance and culturally responsive teaching OR using data to examine culturally responsive teaching OR examining culturally relevant teaching OR issues of culturally relevant teaching OR inequity in teachers OR teacher absenteeism OR teacher retention rates OR teacher inequity OR student inequity in schools OR district inequity OR determining school inequity

Searched Databases and Resources.

  • ERIC
  • Academic Databases (e.g., EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, ProQuest, Google Scholar)
  • Commercial search engines (e.g., Google)
  • Institute of Education Sciences Resources

Reference Search and Selection Criteria. The following factors are considered when selecting references:

  • Date of Publication: Priority is given to references published in the past 10 years.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: ERIC, other academic databases, Institute of Education Sciences Resources, and other resources including general internet searches
  • Methodology: Priority is given to the most rigorous study types, such as randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental designs, as well as to correlational designs, descriptive analyses, mixed methods and literature reviews. Other considerations include the target population and sample, including their relevance to the question, generalizability, and general quality.

REL Mid-Atlantic serves the education needs of Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

This Ask A REL was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0006 by Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic administered by Mathematica Policy Research. The content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.