Black History Month spotlight: Lessons from Eastside Union SD’s Blueprint for Equity implementation

As Black History Month begins, the Eastside Union School District’s recent work to improve educational experiences and supports for Black students and their families, covered in a case study published by The Education Trust–West, can serve as an example for other local educational agencies.

Enacting Equity: Implementing an Equity Blueprint with a Focus on Black Student Success” shares promising practices and challenges that the Southern California district experienced early on in the implementation of its Blueprint for Equity plan.

“We hope this case study will inspire districts across the state to adopt proven equity-centered practices and to adapt strategies to fit their unique local contexts,” the authors said. “We also hope that EUSD’s story, which reflects work needed in countless classrooms and districts across California, provides an example that galvanizes state leaders to invest in, and hold schools and districts accountable for, supporting Black student success.”

Process and findings

Eastside Union SD serves approximately 3,120 students across its six schools. While Black students account for 5 percent of the total student population statewide and in Los Angeles County where the LEA is located, they account for 22 percent of enrollees in the district.

With its vision statement, “Everyone Contributes, Every Student Achieves,” leading the way, in 2020, the LEA recognized that it needed to identify the root causes of equity gaps and address them, according to the case study. The Education Trust–West was brought on board to facilitate a Systemic Equity Review, which consists of steps including data collection and analysis, reflection, planning and action, with a goal of ensuring all students are supported.

The review found that Black students were encountering the LEA’s largest equity gaps in the areas of school climate and culture, absenteeism and academic outcomes. As a result, efforts to understand and meet the needs of these students became a top priority, which was rolled into the Blueprint for Equity that Ed Trust–West and Eastside Union SD created. The blueprint, adopted in 2021–22, “outlines specific strategies to create equitable and humanizing learning experiences for each of its students,” according to the case study.

The document was circulated among district leaders and school staff with opportunities for staff and public participation provided.

In spring 2023, during the second year of implementation, Ed Trust–West found the district was beginning to see improvement in two key areas: progress toward building more positive relationships with parents and families, and notable academic growth in math and English based on performance on formative assessments administered throughout the school year.

The case study notes that significant work still lies ahead to translate the growth into improved proficiency rates for all students.

Four key findings from the implementation process, that show both the strategies in use and how the LEA is engaging in continuous improvement by considering family and staff perspectives, include:

  • Family engagement efforts should be centered on building trust and empowering parents as partners.
  • Equity-focused annual planning and instructional reform must include an explicit focus on racial equity to begin to close opportunity gaps.
  • To improve attendance, schools should start with disaggregating data by student demographics to inform targeted outreach and support.
  • Ongoing, embedded professional development for all staff and dedication to pursuing mindset and culture shifts are key ingredients for changing practice.

“Equitable action planning to improve student achievement is a complex process that is neither one-size-fits-all nor static,” Ed Trust–West states. “Districts must focus on monitoring progress through regular reviews of data that is disaggregated by student demographics, refining their own strategies when needed, and providing ongoing opportunities for staff to collaborate and improve implementation approaches in the school year and professional development calendars.”