A learning environment benefits from many different factors. Dedicated and experienced instructors, caring and committed school and district leaders, and skilled counselors are just the start of the list.
Another element that benefits learners is a richly diverse student body. This wealth of perspectives, differing insights, and myriad approaches bring various perspectives to the classroom and the school.
Diversity in the classroom isn’t just about populations and demographics. Students each have their own unique path in life, and not everyone intends to pursue a college education. There are many career paths, including military service, technical school, or apprenticeships, that a student may be considering.
This rich tapestry of backgrounds and future plans can make counseling difficult. Counselors want to enable all students to succeed and reach their full potential. It’s crucial to understand what different cohorts and individuals need to achieve.
Therefore, counselors need to approach their programs—the overall counseling framework and the standards that specifically address career or college counseling—in a way that supports diverse goals, students, and outcomes. These diversity-supporting programs, or equity plans, play essential roles in ensuring that all students have the opportunities and resources to reach their goals.
With a large and varied learner population, though, counselors must be efficient in creating these plans. For counseling directors, their programs and equity plans should be well designed and consistently implemented across an entire district and at the school level. Having the right tools can make equity plans and program management more effective so you can better help your students.
Five Tips for Equity Plan Management
1. Create an understanding of what equity means, how it’s measured, and how it fits your programs
There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to student equity. In fact, the one constant is that equity doesn’t mean equal—programs need to serve the needs of students, and each student is on their own path to the future.
Programs should ensure that personal and social circumstances aren’t inhibitors for a student to achieve their potential and that all students can reach a basic minimum standard of education. Some students and cohorts may need more assistance or support to meet these criteria, and your plans should acknowledge those needs and accommodate them.
2. Measure and use the data
Creating programs to help students is great, but are they actually doing any good? To manage diverse student plans, you first need to understand the effectiveness of current programs and be able to measure progress over time.
It’s important to get a benchmark of where existing student and cohort performance is at. This will point at the direction that plans need to move students toward, based on your district’s definition of equity and overall program intent.
Data is not “set it and forget it,” though. Once a baseline has been established, regular reviews of the data will move plans toward the goals. These data reviews enable counselors and directors to see what’s working within their programs and what’s not and to make adjustments as needed.
Additional advocates for students can help review the data to provide outside perspectives. For instance, consider bringing instructors into the reviews. They may be able to identify additional improvements within lesson plans that promote equity and point to individual students who may need additional support.
3. Make planning and management easier with templates
Implementing and managing career and academic planning programming focused on equity isn’t about unreachable plans. It’s about concrete actions that can be taken to improve student outcomes. It’s more important to take action toward student equity than it is to get everything perfect before you begin.
However, counselors don’t need to start from scratch when defining or managing equity plans. Templates can help. They can get a program started on the right path and can be further customized for the specific needs of a district and its students.
4. Empower students with self-assessments
At the end of the day, equity plans are about the students, not the counselors or the district. Giving students the tools that they need to reflect and self-assess can be invaluable when managing student programs.
The information that students can provide through a self-assessment can be invaluable for counselors. These assessments go beyond numbers and cohort data to show real impacts and student needs. Plus, a self-assessment can indicate where a student’s interests lie so counselors can better serve that student by mapping a path that helps them reach their goals, be that college, the military, or a technical school or training.
5. Use flexible program management tools that adhere to your workflows
The most important element of educational plan management is the ability to create a plan that addresses the needs of the school and student population. That doesn’t mean the district should have to change every element of its processes, but it should focus on those changes that will bring about the best outcomes for the students.
The tool that you adopt for plan management should support your own processes and be customizable. Adhering to the district’s workflow means more time can be spent on identifying and managing student achievement.
This may mean customizing the tool to best support your district. Any tool that truly supports plan management should include access to resources, like implementation teams and training, that will get counselors up to speed on the platform so they can use it effectively.
Student programs that include consideration for equity plans ensure that every student, regardless of social or economic background and future goals, has the opportunity to learn everything that they need to succeed. This includes everything from basic skills to career-focused knowledge. But supporting these students requires understanding the effectiveness of your current plans and defining where you want to be.
The tools that exist to help counselors create and manage programs should be evaluated closely to ensure that they can adapt to your district’s workflows and provide a starting point for plans. It should also support student input and assessments so programs can be customized to meet the needs of your students. You can use a flexible plan management system to fit your school’s unique needs and programs and give every student the foundation that they need to succeed in life.
Here at XAP, we believe that exploration lays the foundation for planning. That’s why we help school and district counseling leaders implement equitable programs and strategies to ensure that students graduate high school not only with a diploma but also with a plan.
To see how we can help you better support your students and drive state, district, and school initiatives with greater ease, transparency, and data, feel free to contact our specialists today!