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Equity Scorecard Project Spells Success

The scorecard promotes institutional change, said Estela Bensimon, director of the Center for Urban Education.

Photo/Glenn Marzano

In 2002, Loyola Marymount University turned to the USC Rossier School of Education’s Center for Urban Education when it sought to “promote diversity” at the Jesuit institution through the center’s Equity Scorecard Project.

Five years later, Loyola’s success is clearly being demonstrated.

The Equity Scorecard is designed to foster institutional change in higher education by closing the achievement gap for historically underrepresented students.

LMU decided to utilize the scorecard because the institution saw it as “one of the most effective diversity assessment tools available,” said Abbie Robinson-Armstrong, the university’s vice president for intercultural affairs. “We’ve used it to convince faculty and staff of the need for change and to provide a structure of accountability and to stimulate discussion and action within individual units, faculty and administrators. It has helped us transform the institution, effecting measurable outcomes across multiple departments and programs.”

As an example, LMU cites an increase in the enrollment of Asian/Pacific Islander students from 12 percent in 2002 to 14 percent in 2005. The number of students of color invited into the university’s honors program also grew.

African-American student participation increased 0.5 percent from 2002 to 2005, and Latino student participation grew by 1.6 percent from 2002 to 2005.

LMU established baseline measures to monitor the number of students of color who are awarded university scholarships and made curricular changes in academic departments to more effectively engage students of color. In addition, the university found that many departments made considerable gains in diversifying their faculty and curricula.

Estela Bensimon, director of the Center for Urban Education, said the scorecard was designed “to address the problem that equity, while valued in principle at many institutions, is not regularly measured in relation to educational outcomes for specific groups of students.”

By requiring measurable accountability through a diversity assessment tool, the scorecard promotes institutional change, Bensimon said.

The scorecard also is being implemented in several public and private two- and four-year institutions in California and six University of Wisconsin system institutions to improve their accountability in achieving equitable outcomes for underrepresented students.

LMU took the process a step further by applying the scorecard to individual strategic units within the university: separate colleges and schools, the honors program, the athletics program, the study abroad program and the university library, said Robinson-Armstrong.

“By using the Equity Scorecard, LMU has found a way to draw attention to inequity and to motivate change,” she said. “It inspired us to seek outcomes that included new departmental and institutional structures; changes in policies, pedagogies, curriculum and budgets, and in student learning and assessment practices; and shifts in the language campus administrators use to talk about the university.

“Not only has the equity scorecard helped the university make clear and compelling cases to key stakeholders about why things must be done differently, but it has pushed faculty and staff to craft a sensible agenda that focuses on improvement without assigning blame.”

Equity Scorecard Project Spells Success

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