NAIS Research: Summary of Findings from Educational Equity in Independent Schools

Executive Summary

Findings from the study "Educational Equity in Independent Schools: A Phenomenographic Study of School-Wide Equity Practices, Barriers, and Leadership Behaviors Necessary to Achieve Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Competence​" by Christopher Gerard Lemieux, Graduate School of Education & Psychology, Pepperdine University​.

Independent school equity research has focused primarily on diversity leaders’ experiences and perspectives of effective diversity leadership for educational equity at independent schools. Aiming to build on those findings, this research sought to understand effective diversity leadership from the perspective and experience of school heads.

This study yielded five conclusions about successful equity programs in independent schools. First, change in independent schools starts with the head of school. Second, heads had to acknowledge that meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work takes time, innovation, and problem-solving. Third, successful equity programs focused on community education and outreach, rather than making change through blunt force. Fourth, heads helped make change by reframing barriers to equity as opportunities. Last, transformational leadership practices that invited in multiple stakeholders were necessary for heads to successfully implement change school-wide.

Six main recommendations were identified for current and future heads interested in pursuing equity work at independent schools.

A summary of the findings as reported in the researchers' dissertation follows. The summary was prepared by Margaret Anne Rowe, NAIS research analyst. Click here to read the entire study.

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