Annalee Jackson

Annalee Jackson

My name is Annalee Jackson, and I am a Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) Public Policy Fellow working in the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Division of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB). Before joining KDE as a fellow, I taught for five years in New Orleans. During my last three years, I taught college and career preparatory courses at the high school level, founded my schools’ visual arts program, and had the privilege to support a first-year teacher as a coaching fellow.

I love DEIB work because creating belonging for all stakeholders requires creatively differentiating and addressing each individual’s needs much like teaching, and it centers people’s well-being and voice through collaboration. Advancing equity is everyone’s work.

Thomas Woods-Tucker, KDE deputy commissioner and chief equity officer, shared with the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) on Dec. 6 the importance of DEIB work.

“Safety has to be our top priority … we talk about addressing issues regarding medical emergencies, fire drills, safety drills … whether we call this diversity, equity, inclusion or diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, it’s all about keeping our kids safe.”

To do our work well, we must seek out as many different perspectives as possible and make sure the stories we tell and the data we collect is representative of the Commonwealth. It is for this reason that the recent data shared at the KBE meeting on Dec. 6 is so exciting.

From 2022-2023, the KDE Division of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, alongside regional education cooperatives, had 11,997 participants in their trainings and initiatives with 68% of districts participating. To see this much enthusiasm and desire to grow to support all students is something Kentucky should be immensely proud of!

DEIB supported enrichment programs, including Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA), serving 507 students, Governor’s Scholars Program (GSP) serving 120 Kentucky school districts, and the National Center for Families Learning serving 100 students. From my experiences teaching, I know art and enrichment inspires, empowers and changes lives. Expanding access so students can explore and develop their creative skills is an investment that will never stop having an impact.

Kentucky is seeing gains in access and performance on Advanced Placement (AP) exams. As exams taken increased across each student subpopulation, qualifying scores increased by 9.8% for Asian students, 24.8% for Black students, 35.5% for Hispanic/Latino students, 7% for White students, and 11.7% for students of two or more races. These gains will have a huge impact on students’ college and career readiness!  

In Kentucky, 352 educators have received coaching on determining root causes and actionable steps in response to problems of practice through the work of the Equity Playbook. During the 2022-2023 school year all together, educators received a total of 1,259 coaching conversations.

I am so jealous of this coaching! Working through a problem of practice is pure HOPE because it is acting on the belief that with intentionality, data and guidance, you CAN and you WILL overcome a challenge and see results. Educators need more coaching like this.

LXD, an independent research group, has found promising results on the impacts of the Equity Playbook, a coaching initiative for educators. The research follows 55 focus schools compared to 240 statistically similar comparison schools who did not participate in coaching. 

“Among schools with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students, students attending Equity Playbook schools became more likely to test on grade level in Science and Math than their comparison school peers,” said Tucker.

KBE leaders praised the findings.

“Hopefully you will be packaging this (research) to make sure that the various audiences have access to this information because the impact is definitely there and definitely worth shouting about,” said KBE Chair Sharon Porter Robinson.

As a data enthusiast and educator, it is clear to me the ways in which this work supports students and educators. I hope Kentucky will continue to invest in DEIB work, act as a model for other states on how to put well-being first and will continue to be a leader in supporting all students and educators through this work.