New Report Offers Critical Insights About the State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in K-12 Schools

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Arlington, VA — November 23, 2020 —With K-12 districts around the nation struggling to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Hanover Research has released a report with extensive findings about the state of DEI in public schools. .

“The Current State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Public Schools” draws on data gathered from 75,645 individuals across 45 U.S. school districts between November 2020 and July 2021 and aggregated into a comprehensive DEI dashboard and dataset. The report offers telling insights into perceptions and experiences around diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges, including:  

  • Only 41% of staff agree or strongly agree that resources are equally distributed across all district schools. 
  • Only 54% of respondents report that teachers in their/their child’s/district schools are engaging students in meaningful conversations about diversity. 
  • A 20-point gap exists between students’ self-reported rate of liking school (57 percent agreement) versus parents’ reports of their children liking school (78 percent) and staff reports about whether students in the district like school (77 percent). 
  • Fewer than half of respondents who identify/whose child identifies as non-binary (46%) agree or strongly agree that their school supports students, families, or staff of all different gender identities or gender expressions. 

“If school district leaders have not established a common understanding of DEI or if they’re struggling to articulate a vision with their district leadership, we suggest they use this report as an internal tool to guide leadership discussions and planning,” says Leila Nuland, senior managing director of Hanover’s K-12 practice, which serves hundreds of schools around the nation.  

System-level inequities across school districts have become a particularly rife subject over the past year, as school districts, state-level education departments, and political leaders debate curriculum-related approaches to discussing DEI at the classroom level. Resulting tensions and a lack of clear direction have made it difficult for districts and their leadership to bridge the conflict and build consensus. 

“You can’t go out to a community and tell them where their issues are,” Nuland says. “You have to help them look at the data, make meaning of the data, and discover where the system needs to change. DEI initiatives are not a one and done approach, you must meet your community where they are and figure out the best way to initiate the journey.” 

While some research offers anecdotal approaches, experts at Hanover Research believe a data-driven approach to conducting equity audits can help identify more effective approaches to achieving higher levels of DEI. 

By providing actionable information about disparities and inequities, equity audits can help district leadership identify system-wide solutions for creating a more equal learning environment that fosters stronger community engagement and better student performance. Further still, districts can use the insights gained to pinpoint potential improvements in a wide range of areas, including teacher quality, achievement equity, program planning, and other factors that ultimately contribute to more equitable and inclusive learning environments. 

“The value of equity audits is in the actionable information provided, and, in this case, an eye toward change,” Nuland explains. “Our team created a framework that not only assesses inequities in school systems but also develops a roadmap for change that is grounded in continuous improvement. 
Download the full report. 
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For more information about Hanover Research, visit or email


About Hanover Research

Founded in 2003, Hanover Research is a global research and analytics firm that delivers market intelligence through a unique, fixed-fee model to more than 1,000 clients. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, Hanover employs high-caliber market researchers, analysts, and account executives to provide a service that is revolutionary in its combination of flexibility and affordability. Hanover was named a Top 50 Market Research Firm by the American Marketing Association in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and by the Insights Association in 2019. To learn more about Hanover Research, visit

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