History: Understanding Equity and Excellence at Scale Forum

The forum Understanding Educational Equity and Excellence at Scale was held in February 2006. The two-day meeting, convened by the Annenberg Institute in Providence, Rhode Island, brought together a pivotal group of education advocates and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive framework on equity and excellence. The forum aimed to "work together as education leaders to reconcile divergent views and approaches in order to further the development of a powerful, integrated framework for achieving equity and excellence at scale."

The forum's goals were to:

Given the persistence of our nation's inability to provide every student with a quality education, the Annenberg Institute originally conceived of the forum as a way of addressing three key challenges in the development of a comprehensive framework for equity and excellence. Those include: addressing the need for equal inputs but also going further to achieve equal results; broadening the scope of educational equity to move beyond the school; and aligning multiple competing approaches to achieving educational equity.

The forum was structured to bring together researchers and experienced practitioners to consider a variety of strategies to achieving equity, along with the assumptions and theories of action that undergird each strategy. What was initially planned as a small gathering of twelve to twenty researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners grew into a larger convening of eighty-five participants.

The forum was successful in sharing emerging knowledge and perspectives about educational equality and excellence at scale, as evidenced by its diverse attendees and the growing demand for participation. Participants represented universities, research organizations, national advocacy groups, educational nonprofits, school districts, and philanthropic organizations. The recent experience of Hurricane Katrina led to a unique opportunity to tie the discussion to an urgent set of on-the-ground problems and concrete actions. By inviting New Orleans educators, the forum prepared the way for a high degree of participant engagement around urban education in post-Katrina New Orleans.