Setting Priorities

There are many reasons for the lack of equity in access to great teachers and leaders. Ameliorating these inequities, therefore, requires a multifaceted approach, but trying to address all of the problems at once, in an uncoordinated fashion, spreads limited resources and capacity too thin. Education leaders instead should invite affected stakeholders to collaborate, think strategically, and begin by setting priorities.

Setting priorities is primarily a reflective process that uses data to inform decisions about the root causes of equity gaps and how best to go about addressing them.  Identifing these root causes will help determine which strategies to employ and how to target resources. If the data are inadequate to make informed decisions, then the stakeholders’ primary priority may be to develop and deploy or enhance comprehensive data systems. (For more information, see Understanding the Problem). Nevertheless, a lack of data should not be a reason for inaction. While the data are being collected and analyzed, stakeholders can use the wisdom of practice, common experiences, and prior research to set priorities for the meantime.

There are three categories of questions to consider in the priority-setting process to identify which problems to address first, especially if state and local resources are limited:

Where Do the Greatest Equity Gaps Exist?

What Are the Root Causes of Your Equity Gaps?

To What Extent Does Current Policy Prioritize Equitable Access?