Ensuring Equity

Building Equity
  • As a school division, we play a vital role in eliminating racial inequities. The ACPS 2020-2025 Strategic Plan “Equity for All 2025”, which will be our roadmap for the next five years, places racial equity at its heart.

    Equity for All 2025 places racial equity at the center of everything that we do as a school division. It challenges us to ensure our students are engaged in classroom instruction and have access to the educational resources needed to enhance their learning experiences. It ensures that our schools are a safe, friendly and welcoming environment for all. It also sets clear division-wide priorities and programs to address opportunity and achievement gaps, and ensures that all students graduate ready for college, careers and life. The vision is big and bold, and the potential is enormous.

    The 2025 plan will say:

    “ACPS places racial equity at the heart of everything it does, due to the recognition that the creation and perpetuation of racial inequities has been deeply rooted into school systems. Deeply racialized systems are costly and depress outcomes and life chances for all groups. Focusing on racial equity provides the opportunity to create goals and strategies that can also be applied to other areas of marginalization.”

    “Strategies to achieve racial equity differ from those to achieve equity in other areas. One-size-fits-all strategies are rarely successful. To have maximum impact, focus and specificity are necessary. Race can be an issue that keeps other marginalized groups from academic success. An approach that recognizes the interconnected ways in which marginalization takes place will help to achieve racial equity across the division and our community.”

    “The goal of ACPS is to collectively remove barriers that prevent someone from achieving their aspirations and fully engaging in whatever they choose within ACPS’ educational experiences.”


    Read our guidance to staff about teaching racial justice.

    See our guidance for families about talking with children about racial justice.

    Read our Resolution Condemning Systemic Racism

    Read our Superintendent's messaging on equity

    Read more about our work to ensure racial equity

  • Equity in ACPS 

    Equity Chart

    In 2017, ACPS began a process to ensure all staff is trained in cultural competency and equity. This work is still in progress and this page will be updated as the work develops.


    • Identify what stakeholders will know and do
    • Communicate the desired goals and expectations through existing communication channels
    • Focus on race and intersectionality
    • Use a shared vocabulary
    • Use data to inform school-based and district level planning and decision-making
    • Create opportunities to build internal capability


    • Focus on what is within each person's sphere of influence that contributes to interpersonal, institutional and structural inequalities
    • Conduct equity audits and include the diversity that exists within the student groups
    • Increase awareness of equity as a part of a larger social issue
    • Talk about implicit and explicit bias, the role of whiteness and its effects on all stakeholders
    • Use equity assessment protocols when reviewing policies and practices


    • Focus on improving systems and practices so that each child experiences success
    • Support staff as they develop the awareness, knowledge and skills to create safe, positive learning communities that result in students:

    - Mastering core academic content and critical thinking skills

    - Communicating effectively and working collaboratively

    - Developing a love for learning


    • Use the experiences of students, staff and families to enrich experiences in schools and in the community
    • Diversify learning to meet the needs of each stakeholder group
    • Provide explicit strategies for challenging biases, building relationships across and within stakeholder groups and creating relevance through curriculum and pedagogy
    • Ensure learning experiences serve as a mirror for each stakeholder group as well as, a window in to the experiences of others
    • Keep growing: As communities evolve, so does the work centered in equity

    Definitions that Guide the Work

    Equality: Treating all people the same.

    Equity: Empowering students, families and staff through building relationships and nurturing capability to collectively remove barriers that prevent anyone from achieving his or her aspirations.

    Cultural Competence: Being aware of and using knowledge and skills to create and maintain effective interactions across differences at the individual, group, and institutional level. Demonstrating cultural competence results consistently modeling personal and professional interactions that are respectful, inclusive, and create equitable relationships, treatment and systems.

    Cultural Competencies

    • Recognizing the influence of one’s own cultural worldview on interactions with others
    • Developing an openness towards cultural differences
    • Acknowledging different cultural practices and worldviews
    • Modeling cross-cultural skills

    Intersectionality: The ways social identifiers contribute to a person’s experiences. Each identity is interconnected, interrelated and contributes simultaneously to a person’s experience. Therefore, no one identifier can be examined independently. 

    Oppression: A situation in which a person or a group of people is subjected to unjust treatment or control that prevents opportunities and freedom.

    Advantage/Privilege: A set of advantages and/or immunities that allow people to benefit on a daily basis beyond those common to others. Advantages can exist without a person’s conscious knowledge of their presence and helps to maintain racial and other hierarchies.

    Types of Racism

    • Internalized Racism - The personal racial beliefs, prejudices, biases or blind spots held by individuals
    • Interpersonal Racism - Acting out internalized beliefs, prejudices or biases against another person
    • Institutional Racism - Practices and policies that occur routinely within an institution and produce unjust outcomes for people of color or other marginalized groups
    • Structural Racism - Practices and policies across societal institutions that result in cumulative discriminatory treatment, unfair policies and inequitable opportunities that perpetuate racism

    Read about the superintendent’s first 100 days

    Discover more Building Equity: Policies and Practices to Empower All Learners by Dominique Smith, Nancy Frey, Ian Pumpian and Douglas Fisher.

    Questions about our equity work? Contact Cheryl Robinson, Cultural Competency Coordinator for ACPS, at cheryl.robinson@acps.k12.va.us