One simple question can accelerate progress toward equity

By Karin Chenoweth
December 2021
For the past 15 years, I have been traveling to schools and districts that break the correlation between race and poverty on the one hand and academic achievement on the other. That is to say, they serve large percentages of children of color and children who live in poverty and their students score at or above where white, middle-class students do. These schools and districts hold enormous lessons for any educators willing to seek them out and ask what I call the most powerful question in education: “Your kids are doing better than mine. What are you doing?” This is the question that acknowledges the hard-won expertise of educators, many of whom are eager to share what they have learned so that others can benefit.

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Bryk, A.S., Allensworth, E., Easton, J.Q., Sebring, P.B., & Luppescu, S. (2010). Organizing schools for improvement. The University of Chicago Press.

Grissom, J.A., Egalite, A.J., & Lindsay, C.A. (2021, February). How principals affect students and schools: A systematic synthesis of two decades of research. The Wallace Foundation.

Leithwood, K., Louis, K.S., Anderson, S., & Wahlstrom, K. (2004). How leadership influences student learning. The Wallace Foundation.

Image for aesthetic effect only - Karin-chenoweth-scaled

Karin Chenoweth (kchenoweth@ is the writer-in-residence at The Education Trust. This article is adapted from the book Districts That Succeed: Breaking the Correlation Between Race, Poverty, and Achievement (Harvard Education Press, 2021).

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