The increasing diversity of Maryland’s schools and the limited impact of many current reform strategies and policies on improving outcomes for diverse students suggest a need to rethink education policy and how to improve learning opportunities for all students.
Housed at the College of Education University of Maryland College Park, the Maryland Equity Project conducts independent, non-partisan research and policy analysis on education and related social and economic challenges that impact education in Maryland. Our mission is to connect policymakers and education leaders to research and foster an informed public policy debate on the quality and distribution of educational opportunities in Maryland. The Maryland Equity Project engages policymakers and educators across the state to promote the effective use of research in policy and practice.
We believe that (1) educational opportunities are not distributed equitably; (2) the standards and accountability policy agenda has not been enough to address what students need to learn; (3) a broader approach to education policy based on ensuring equity and opportunity for all students is needed; and (4) the state has an important role to play in advancing equity and opportunity. We believe that if we can identify the issues that need to be addressed, raise the visibility of the issues and propose policy alternatives then we can begin to significantly improve education.
The Maryland Equity Project pursues this mission through four core strategies: (1) conducting rigorous and independent research and policy analysis that addresses key policy issues in Maryland from an equity perspective on a regular basis; (2) translating existing research into easy to understand formats; (3) developing policy and practice recommendations to expand educational opportunity for all Maryland children; and (4) fostering opportunities for policymakers and educators to consider new evidence, discuss issues, and develop new approaches to advancing equity in Maryland.
Our approach considers factors that are both internal and external to the schools. Within schools, we focus on policies and practices that maximize learning opportunities for all students, but are particularly important for enhancing the learning of diverse students. This focus includes factors that increase access to learning opportunities and address barriers to learning. But simply changing what schools do is not enough because educational disadvantages stems from many social and economic sources external to schools. Access to health care, the concentration of disadvantage or advantage in a neighborhood, availability of integrated housing, employment opportunities available to families, and state of the economy, among others, all affect student learning. Since gaps in achievement based on socioeconomic status are present before students enter schools, school improvement strategies, by themselves cannot close the achievement gap.
To broaden and deepen the understanding of the issues that must be addressed as the population of Maryland continues to diversify, the Maryland Equity Project (1) publishes policy briefs, research reports, and data briefs that address key policy issues on education in Maryland and (2) convenes seminars and briefings to make current research available to stakeholders throughout the state of Maryland. The aim is to:
- Identify innovative and effective policies and practices that contribute to reducing racial disparities and inequities in educational outcomes at all levels—pre-K through college—of the Maryland educational system.
- Promote a greater understanding of the social-economic factors that are strongly related to children’s school readiness and success in school.
- Develop the capacity of policymakers to use research and data in decision-making.
- Build a new generation of scholars who focus on educational equity and opportunity.