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Terms & Definitions


Refers to practices, beliefs, and policies that systematically discriminate against people with dis/abilities
(Paris, 2017)


All members of the educational community should have entrance into, involvement with, and full participation of resources, conversations, initiatives, and choices which are attentive to heritage and community practices
(Paris, 2012)

Achievement Gap

“The achievement gap between whites, blacks, and Latinos holds white wealthy students' performance as the standard of excellence without interrogating whether or not their performance is worthy of comparison. Instead of asking if how they performed is excellent, the inter-racially comparative nature of the "achievement gap" suggests that blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, special education students, and those receiving free and reduced-priced lunch should do whatever white students are doing."
This term has now been replaced with the opportunity gap; the achievement gap places the responsibility of achievement on marginalized groups, rather than the systems in place causing the disparities.

Critical Consciousness

The willingness and ability to see how power and privilege are at work to systematically advantage some while simultaneously disadvantaging others
(Radd & Kramer, 2013)

Culturally Responsive Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (CRPBIS)

A framework that aims at remediating school cultures that reproduce behavioral outcome disparities and marginalization of nondominant students and families
(Bal, 2011)

Cultural Repertoire

The entire collection of students' lived experiences, home traditions, and social identities
(Lamont & Fleming, 2005)


Is not a proxy for race, but rather is an authentic, genuine, and equitable representation of individuals representing different races, national origins, sexual orientations, religions, and individuals with dis/abilities
(Jackson, Coomer, Dagli, Skelton, Kyser, & Thorius, 2017)

Educational Equity

When educational policies, practices, interactions, and resources, are representative of, constructed by, and responsive to all students such that each student has access to, can meaningfully participate, and make progress in high-quality learning experiences resulting in positive outcomes regardless of individual characteristics and cultural identities
(Fraser, 2008; Great Lakes Equity Center, 2012)


Derived from the concept of fairness as uniform distribution, where everyone is entitled to the same level of access and can avail themselves if they so choose
(Schement, 2001)

Equity-Centered Curriculum and Instruction

Curricula and instructional practices that remove barriers to learning for all students, especially students who have been historically marginalized based on race, gender, dis/ability, national origin, religion and sexuality; are inclusive in the representation of the histories, experiences, practices and perspectives of diverse people; and promote social analysis and critiques toward social improvement
(Moore et al, 2015)

Equity-Oriented Leadership

Leadership that brings about transformative change towards equity, inspires permanent, positive changes in both individuals and systems to create the conditions for and mobilize efforts toward equity, including an awareness of and attention to the nested nature of our educational systems which pose as barriers towards equity
(Artiles & Kozleski, 2007? Waitoller & Kozleski, 2013)

High Outcomes

Efficacy of solutions that benefit all towards self-determination and the ability to act as contributing citizens in a democratic society and global community.

Implicit Bias

The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. The biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual's awareness or intentional control
(Blair, 2002 and Rudman, 2004, as cited in Staats & Patton, 2013)


Creating a society in which all children and their families feel welcomed and valued

Inclusive Classrooms

Acknowledgement of the myriad ways in which students differ from one another, class, gender, race, ethnicity, family background, sexual orientation, language, abilities, size, religion, etc., and the ability to value this diversity and design and implement productive and sensitive responses

Institutional Racism

The unexamined and unchallenged system of racial biases and residual white advantage that persists in our institutions of learning is not seen as a problem worthy of attention


A set of policies, practices, traditions, norms, definitions and explanations (discourses), which function to systematically exploit one social group to the benefit of another social group
(Sensoy & DiAngelo, 2012, p. 39)

Meaningful Participation

Agency and voice are afforded to all members of a community, by intentionally centering members who have been historically on the margins including, but not limited to people living in underresourced communities, people with dis/abilities, as well as racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse individuals. Multiple perspectives are pursued and valued
(Fraser, 1998)


The use of the word minority and the comparative mentality that's formed as a result is often introduced to Black and Brown people at the most malleable point of life: childhood. That mindset festers throughout childhood, prompting an inferiority complex that makes these children feel they cannot excel due to systemic oppression. Non-whites are already a majority of the world's population. In our lifetime, people of color will compose a majority in America
(Lambert, 2020)

Opportunity Gap

The inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities between populations; mainly referencing that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds or historically underserved racial and ethnic populations are not privileged to the types of resources and opportunities their White, middle-high income peers are


The multiple, unique experiences that situate each of us; namely that gender, [gender expression], race, class, [ability, religion, national origin, language], and other aspects of our identities are markers of relational positions rather than essential qualities
(Takacs, 2003; Maher & Tetreault, 1993; Alcoff, 1988)

Positive Outcomes

Efficacy of solutions benefit all towards self-determination and the ability to act as contributing members in a democratic society and global community.


Any advantage that is unearned, exclusive, and socially conferred
(Johnson, 2006)

Racial Bias

[Race-based] attitudes or [negative] stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions
(Staats, Capatosto, Wright, & Contractor, 2015)


A belief that inherent differences among various races determine cultural and individual achievements, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior


Ensuring adequate presence of all when making decisions to examine patterns of underlying beliefs, practices, policies, structures and norms that may marginalize specific groups and limit opportunity
(Mulligan & Kozleski, 2009; Chen et al, 2014)


Authentic positive reception of historically marginalized group students assets and lived experiences, within the learning environment
(Whiteman, Thorius, Skelton, & Kyser, 2015)

Restorative Justice

Across contexts, restorative principles emphasize repairing harm. In schools, the restorative justice approach is viewed as an alternative to suspensions and expulsions that emphasizes creating safe learning environments through community building and redressing damage
(Riestenberg, 2012)


Blanket beliefs and expectations about members of certain groups that present an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment. They go beyond necessary and useful categorizations and generalizations in that they are typically negative, are based on little information, and are highly generalized
(National Conference for Community and Justice, n.d., p. 7)

Transformative Systemic Change

Pursuing shifts toward equity at all levels by redistributing quality educational opportunities for all students, recognizing and valuing all students' differences, and cultivating spaces for families and students to meaningfully participate in the decisions that affect their learning trajectories
(Fraser, 1997, 2008; Waitoller & Artiles, 2010; Waitoller & Kozleski, 2013, p. 28)


Describes a person whose gender identity and assigned sex at birth do not correspond. Also used as an umbrella term to include gender identities outside of male and female. Sometimes abbreviated as trans.
(National LGBT Health Education Center, 2016, p. 5)


People are often disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression: their race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and other identity markers. The oppression comes from all identity markers, but at the intersection is a new form of oppression. It is also important to note that for some, intersectionality can provide advantages and be empowering depending on those identity markers (i.e. Cisgender/Male)
(Kimberle' Crenshaw, 1989)


  • MAP showcased the district’s student voice efforts in a video TA Partners in Action!
  • DEI Core Team facilitated a full-day workshop providing a collaborative opportunity for students and adults to center student voices in the creation of systemic equitable practices.
  • District joined MAP Learning Network Cohort. Staff, building leadership and district will participate in virtual learning events focused on Culturally Responsive/Asset-based and Sustaining Practices.
  • Equity Board Advisory Committee Established. The work of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEI) has been elevated to board advisory level. The new Equity Board Advisory Committee will consider the work around the DEI action committees for recommendation to the BOE.
  • DEI Coordinator status changed to full-time and includes increased leadership opportunities.
  • More than 450 high school staff and building administrators received CRT training.
  • Student Voice efforts showcased by State agencies highlighting equity.Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) features students in webinar: Are You Listening? Promoting Equity Through Student Voice at the Board Table.
  • Oswego students participated in social justice march/rally sponsored by Alderman Bugg, Ward 9.
    The superintendent releases a statement supporting students during national turmoil.
  • Board of Education priority to advance DEI efforts to ensure that advantages of education are accessible to all students.
  • DEI Committee identifies multiple platforms for increasing opportunities to promote student voice.
  • Student Equity Ambassadors presented before BOE their takeaways from equity experiences in SY 2018-2019.
  • Cohort of forty high school students collaborated with twenty-one educators on ways of creating a socially just school community.
  • Eighteen student Equity Ambassadors presented to sixty educators at IGNITE 308. Students shared their IGNITE 2019 Students lived experiences inside and outside the classroom.
  • Twenty-three student Equity Ambassadors collaborated with Illinois State University Department of Psychology on ways to have effective equity conversations.
  • MAP partners facilitated in-district training of ECAP team to prepare for school visits.
  • DEI core team representatives attend workshop to inform the district’s plan to provide a platform for student voice around equity.
  • AVID Culturally Responsive Teaching workshop held. Over 150 district leaders, teachers and DEI members engaged in learning experiences aimed at validating the cultures of all students.
  • MAP partnership extended to 2020 with additional goal to support district in increasing student engagement in equity efforts.
  • BOE continue DEI as a priority.
  • District Retreat held for over 100 school and district administrators with a focus on understanding the impact of implicit bias.
  • ECAP data collection team visits 8 schools to observe evidence of equity through school walkthroughs, classroom observations and teacher interviews. Equity related data was collected from parents, staff and administrators through surveys.
  • Twenty-one Equity Context Analysis Process (ECAP) Team participated in district equity needs assessment.
  • District signs two-year contract with MAP to enhance and advance goals in DEI plan.
  • MAP team meets with DEI core team to plan roll out.
  • DEI Core team attends workshop regarding having conversations with district stakeholders about equity issues.
  • MAP team facilitated to over 100 school/district leaders to build their understanding of educational equity at district administrator retreat.
  • DEI Core team attends two- day Equity Leadership Institute to understand their role as transformational leaders in the advancement of equity.
  • DEI Committee hosted “Unity in the Community” event at Prairiefest featuring an art installation created by the community.
  • BOE votes to make DEI a board priority.
  • DEI Committee adds 30 new members with diverse experiences to the newly named DEI Committee-at-Large. The now 50 members are a well-balanced representation of the district’s community.
  • Equity Contact Analysis Process (ECAP) team seated. 20 Members of DEI Committee-at-Large volunteered and trained to assess evidence of equity in schools through a data collection and observation.
  • BOE approves DEI Plan.
  • DEI Coordinator hired.
  • District in talks with Midwest and Plains (MAP) Equity Assistance Center, a grant funded organization, who provides support and tools to make educational equity improvements to educational system.
DDC re-established as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee to draft plan to address barriers to student achievement
Due to the economic downfall and diminished funding, new efforts on the equity were not undertaken. Valuable work, research and training up to this point was still evident and desire remained to do more.
  • Diversity Action Team (DAT) members seated to develop action plans for Strategic Plan VI: “Develop and Implement Inclusive Plans that Capitalize on Benefits of our Diversity.”
  • KG facilitates diversity training with DDC, DAT and District Leadership.
  • KG presents audit findings and recommendations to Board of Education (BOE).
  • District Diversity Committee (DDC) seated due to changing student demographics and student population doubling from 7,800 in 2002 to 14,300.
  • Kaleidoscope Group (KG) was hired by SD 308 as a diversity consulting firm.
  • DDC collaborates with Oswego Education Association (OEA) to submit grant applications to National Education Association (NEA) for staff training to close the achievement gap. Grant was not awarded, but work towards equity continued.
  • Strategic Planning Summit is held. Student diversity is recommended as an additional strategy to Strategic Plan.
  • KG conducts cultural audits with groups across the district.
  • Superintendent Behlow pens article for The Loop, Oswego CUSD 308 newsletter, “Diversity: Opportunities and Challenges.”