Identifying the Root Causes of Disproportionality

A citation for disproportionality does not necessarily mean a district is intentionally producing inequitable outcomes. Oftentimes, as the root causes of a district's disproportionality are explored, it becomes clear that existing beliefs, policies, and practices have unintentionally created the environment for inequity to thrive. One theory that explains this occurrence is fragmented harm (Payne, 1984), which implies that inequality is sustained because either opportunities that can be provided are not or systems of inequality go unchallenged or unquestioned (Pollock, 2010). Thus, a key first step in understanding a district's root causes of disproportionality is questioning how practitioners either contribute to or help sustain disparate outcomes in practice. While exploring the root causes of disproportionality, it is important to be mindful of the tensions you may feel when trying to understand and address racialized outcomes in practice. Learn more