Access to a high quality education is every child’s civil right and is critical to the national need to close the achievement gap.
The Western Equity Assistance Center (WEAC) — whose work ended in October 2005 — enabled public school educators to provide effective instruction to all students and specifically those students for whom disparities in achievement persist. The WEAC was one of ten such centers throughout the United States and had a unique legislative mandate to assist public schools to prepare, adopt and implement plans and practices for equal and equitable access to high quality education within public schools. The WEAC provided professional development and other technical assistance to close the persistent achievement gap and address other related educational issues that may prevent all students from reaching high standards regardless of race, gender, and national origin. Activities included assistance on implementing successful policies and practices to meet the legal requirements related to nondiscrimination.
The WEAC used research and best practices to achieve the above goals by addressing the following objectives:
WEAC Lines of Service
- Reduce the extent to which students are isolated on the basis of race, gender, and national origin and promote high standards and close the achievement gap for all students by implementing activities such as:
- Assisting magnet schools, charter schools, and other schools of choice to identify, design, and implement policies and practices related to student recruitment, selection, admissions, and retention that provide all students with equitable access to quality education that leads to high achievement.
- Providing professional development to prepare teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to provide equitable and culturally relevant instruction in language arts/reading and math to enable all students regardless of race, gender, and national origin to meet high standards.
- Creating safe schools and non-hostile environments that are free from racial, sexual, and national origin harassment, bullying, teasing, and hate crimes to foster supportive learning environments.
- Assist school districts to implement research-based practices that support English Language proficiency for all students regardless of race, gender, or national origin so they reach high standards in reading, language arts, and math.
- Provide parents with the knowledge and skills to understand and use their options under No Child Left Behind (e.g., parental options, notification, supplemental services, AYP, report cards, safe schools) and how to support their children’s learning and achievement.
For example, the WEAC helped educators and family or community members address:
- Concerns ethnic-minority students faced in regards to being underrepresented in advanced placement courses;
- Concerns about gender fairness—coaches not treating female and male athletes equitably;
- Parent involvement—establishing parent advisory committees that involve parents in the home school partnership and building staff capacity for involving parents;
- OCR compliance issues;
- Concerns about bullying and hate-motivated behavior in schools. WEAC provided training workshops for school district personnel and community members to help them effectively take action in the own school or communities;
- Concerns about language acquisition—WEAC has responded to frustration from parents of English learners who feel a communication gap or that they don’t feel welcomed in their child’s school. WEAC provides training and professional development on appropriate academic services for English learners and equitable treatment for students and their parents; assist school districts in the development of Master Plans for English learners.
- No Child Left Behind (NCLB)—WEAC provided workshops to help school personnel and parents reach a better understanding of the NCLB policies and how to reach the goals.
Director: Leonard Beckum
Contact: Connie Preston
This project is part of WestEd's Center for Educational Equity.
WestEd staff involved with this project: