Education Equity Insights Part 1: Working for Sustainable Solutions

Darcy Pietryka

Westat approaches all of our work—with clients, partners, and as an active community member—with an equity mindset. We understand the imperative to include the voices of those too long excluded. We prioritize the need to understand complex issues of equity and fairness along with the impact of intersecting identities (e.g., race, gender, class, and ability). Our goal is to harness evidence-based research, tools, and services that lead to solutions that support sustainable change.

“In seeking to solve equity challenges in education at all levels, we collaborate with our clients and partners, providing technical assistance and capacity-building services that strive to close the many achievement and opportunity gaps for underserved students,” explains Darcy Pietryka, Ed.M., a Senior Study Director in Westat’s Education Studies area. “We bring a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at every decision point and have a diverse, experienced staff who take great pride in providing creative as well as rigorous and tested solutions.”

Westat provides high-level technical assistance in a range of areas that are key in addressing inequities in education. We work with partners in states, school districts, community groups, and foundations across the country to build capacity and address systemic inequities and achievement gaps, including:

  • School-based mental health and student well-being
  • Supporting Native and indigenous education
  • Wrap-around services and collective impact
  • Diversifying the educator pipeline
  • College and career readiness

Using an Equity Lens to Affect Change at All Levels

Westat’s work in this area is wide ranging, including at the national, state, and local levels. The National Comprehensive Center (NCC), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, is providing universal and targeted capacity-building products and services to support 19 regional centers and their stakeholders to improve education outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, and improve the quality of instruction.

Our work with states and local education agencies support strategic planning around large-scale system change; establishing and administering collective action networks in communities; building an ecosystem of effective school support and talent providers; and aligning civic partners and engaging the community.

On a local level, we are helping organizations design, implement, and continuously improve racial equity strategic plans. We provide training and work in partnership with organizations to design and implement purposeful and strategic programs, helping organizations’ diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plans.

Modeling Solutions to Equity Challenges in Our Feature Series

Westat’s broad and deep expertise in education technical assistance and capacity building helps our clients and partners find solutions that meet their challenges in their individual ecosystems, understanding their unique needs and posing innovative, evidence-based solutions.

We are in unprecedented times that require innovative, outside-the-box solutions. Westat is working collaboratively to help our educational system come back better and stronger, to help meet the needs of all populations. Whatever the challenge, from the rising rates of mental health disorders among students, to closing the opportunity and education gaps for populations that have been marginalized, to improving college and career readiness, Westat is providing the technical systemic support that can lead to achieving student success for all. This series will spotlight this work.

We bring a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at every decision point and have a diverse, experienced staff who take great pride in providing creative as well as rigorous and tested solutions.

- Darcy Pietryka, Ed.M., a Senior Study Director, Education Studies

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