NAIS Research: Summary of Findings from Time for Change: The Impact of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Practitioners on Independent School Campuses

Executive Summary

Findings from the study "Time for Change: The Impact of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Practitioners on Independent School Campuses" by Mike Brown and Seth Swihart, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University.

Beginning with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, but particularly over the past decade, many independent schools have been working to integrate their student and faculty bodies— with uneven degrees of success. With the events of 2020 underscoring the inequalities faced by communities of color, additional attention has been placed on how independent schools can and should respond authentically and meaningfully to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). One of the most effective methods is hiring a DEI practitioner to coordinate and advocate for diversity initiatives, responding to the unique context of the individual school.

While much has been said about the importance of institutionally funding and supporting DEI practitioners, little has been done to analyze the effects on teachers of their work—particularly on teachers of color, whose numbers remain stubbornly low despite independent schools’ diversifying student bodies. This study by Mike Brown and Seth Swihart from the Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, in collaboration with NAIS, analyzes the impact of DEI practitioners on independent schools and the implications of their work on adult culture and professional development.  

The researchers administered a 64-question survey to 7,553 teachers, 606 DEI practitioners, and 3,587 school administrators at NAIS schools across the United States. Eight hundred and eighty-eight responded to the survey, including 118 DEI practitioners, 142 administrators, and 628 teachers, for a response rate of 12%. Following analysis of the survey data, the researchers conducted semi-structured empathy interviews via videoconference with nine diversity officers who had responded to the survey. Their mixed-methods approach allowed them to go beyond cause and effect to look more holistically at the impact of a DEI practitioner on staff culture and professional development.

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

Downloadable Content

Related Resources