icon graphic representing a glossary


These terms provide background and common language for the discussions that the LEAD Tool generates.



An interactive process that enables teachers, school leaders, families, and communities with diverse expertise to work together as equals and engage in shared decision making toward mutually defined goals.

Collective responsibility

Collective responsibility means each participant (teachers, administrators, educators, families, other stakeholders) has shared responsibility for decisions, consequences, and outcomes and fully supports and abides by group decisions.

Cultural capital

This refers to nonfinancial social assets that promote social mobility beyond economic means. Examples include education, intellect, style of speech, dress, and even physical appearance. Cultural capital is the accumulated cultural knowledge that confers power and status. Cultural capital is the accumulated cultural knowledge that confers power and status

Culturally responsive teaching

Culturally responsive teaching provides instruction that acknowledges that culture is central to learning. It encourages students to learn by building on the experiences, knowledge, and skills they bring to the classroom. It also infuses family customs, community culture, and expectations throughout the learning environment.

Culturally responsive teaching is student centered, has the power to transform, is connected and integrated, fosters critical thinking, incorporates assessment and reflection, and builds relationships and community

Culture of inquiry

In a culture of inquiry, the group makes sense of things through questioning, debate, dialogue, and confirming understanding collaboratively.

A culture of inquiry is reflective and collaborative. It is characterized by constructing and deconstructing knowledge and meaning. It provides and cultivates a formal learning structure and community.

Distributed leadership

Distributed leadership refers to full participation and empowerment of teachers, educators, and stakeholders to create democratic schools.

Leadership practice is constructed in the interactions among leaders, followers, and their situations.

Under distributed leadership, everyone is responsible and accountable for leadership within his or her area. Good ideas come from throughout the school community, and many people cooperate in creating change. Distributed leadership is an environment where everyone feels free to develop and share new ideas.

Emerging bilingual students

This is a strength-based term focusing on dual language as an asset. The term is synonymous with the terms English language learners (ELLs) and limited English proficient (LEP) students.

Equitable allocation of fiscal and material resources

Involves needs-based distribution, including equitable distribution of high-quality teachers across all schools.

Requires that decisions be made collaboratively by those closest to the learners.

Meets the unique needs of all students.

Does not mean equal allocation.

Equity lens

An equity lens is a tool for analysis, planning, decision making, and evaluation.

It can be used to diagnose or analyze the impact of the design and implementation of policies or programs on underserved, marginalized, and diverse individuals and groups and to identify appropriate accommodation to eliminate barriers.

It can be used to measure whether policies and programs distribute resources and benefits equitably among diverse and underserved individuals and groups.

Federally defined subgroups

Under NCLB requirements for schools receiving Title I funds with the goal of all students reaching the proficient level, states must define minimum levels of improvement as measured by standardized tests chosen by the state. Adequate yearly progress (AYP) targets must be set for overall achievement and for subgroups of students, including major ethnic/racial groups, economically disadvantaged students, limited English proficient (LEP) students, and students with disabilities.

Inclusive process

Inclusive education is an approach that seeks to address the learning needs of all children, youth, and adults with a specific focus on those who are vulnerable to being marginalized and excluded.

Inclusive education means that schools should accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic, or other conditions. This includes disabled and gifted children; homeless and working children; children from remote or migrant populations; children from linguistic, ethnic, or cultural minorities; and children from other disadvantaged or marginalized areas or groups.

Inclusion is the process of addressing and responding to the diverse needs of all learners through increasing participation in learning, cultures, and communities, and reducing exclusion within and from education. It involves changes and modifications in content, approaches, structures, and strategies, with a common vision that covers all children. It is a conviction that the regular system is responsible for educating all children.

Language-appropriate communication

Communication is two-way and involves finding a means to communicate effectively while respecting and accepting language and cultural differences.

Nondominant groups

Nondominant groups hold a lower position in a social hierarchy, lack access to resources, and do not control the value system or the rewards in a society.

Dominant groups exercise the most control. A dominant group is a social group that has the highest position in a social hierarchy, the greatest access to resources, and control of the value system and rewards in a particular society.


External oppression is the unjust exercise of authority and power by one group over another. It includes imposing one group’s belief system, values, and life ways over another group. External oppression becomes internalized oppression when we come to believe and act as if the oppressor’s beliefs system, values, and life way are reality. The result is often shame and the disowning of individual and cultural identity and reality.

Institutionalized oppression is the systematic mistreatment of people with a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based on the person’s membership or perceived membership in the social identity group.


A pipeline for hiring and placing personnel in an equitable manner assures a diverse applicant pool, establishes a clear identification of career pathways, provides a system of communication and ongoing supports and mentoring, and typically includes collaboration with higher education,

Positional authority

Positional authority is based on one’s position and responsibility in the workplace. Personal authority is the standing an individual has with others because of his or her behavior, values, treatment of others, and morality.


Privilege refers to an unearned advantage that accompanies a person’s perceived status and/or perceived membership in identified groups. A right that only some people have access or availability to because of their social group memberships (dominants). Because hierarchies of privilege exist, even within the same group, people who are part of the group in power (white/Caucasian people with respect to people of color, men with respect to women, heterosexuals with respect to homosexuals, adults with respect to children, and rich people with respect to poor people) often deny they have privilege even when evidence of differential benefit is obvious.


Racism is race-based prejudice plus power; it is the belief that races have distinctive cultural characteristics determined by hereditary factors and that this endows some races with an intrinsic superiority over others. It is also the abusive, dominant, or aggressive behavior toward members of another race on the basis of such a belief.

Institutional racism comprises policies, procedures, operations, and culture of public or private institutions that covertly or overtly reinforce prejudices and are reinforced by them in turn. While individual racism is the expression of personal prejudice, institutional racism is the expression of a whole organization’s racist practice and culture.

Internalized racism exists when groups targeted by oppression “internalize” or give credence to mistreatment and misinformation about themselves. The targeted group thus “misbelieves” the same misinformation that pervades the social system and uses it to characterize behavior and interactions among individual members of their group. Internalized oppression is an involuntary reaction to the experience of oppression on the part of the targeted group.

Redress systemic inequities

Redressing systemic inequities means to remedy, set right, or compensate for a wrong or grievance that is the outcome of status quo institutions, policies, and practices.

Restoration-focused inclusive practices

These practices provide opportunities for wrongdoers to be accountable to those they have harmed and enable them to repair the harm they caused to the extent possible.

These practices recognize the need to keep the community safe through strategies that build relationships and empower the community to take responsibility for the well-being of its members. They increase the positive social skills of those who have harmed others and build on strengths in each young person.

Social justice

Social justice is about fairness among human beings. Social justice is equivalent to social fairness. It is a phrase that refers to giving what is rightly due to an individual or group, team, or community.

Teaching for social justice is an educational philosophy designed to promote socioeconomic equality in the learning environment and instill values supporting equality in students.

Systemic nature of educational disparities

The perspective that disparities (based in race, class, gender, language, sexual orientation, national origin, and other social groupings) in achievement, discipline, leadership, participation, engagement, attendance, and other school opportunities are the expected and predictable outcomes given the current organization, structure, and power dynamics in schools.

Traditionally marginalized

Traditionally marginalized populations are those that are excluded, devalued, and relegated to an unimportant or powerless position; the marginalization is predictable, historical, and systemic.

Two-way culturally responsive communication

Communication that is reciprocal and requires: awareness of one’s own culture, cultural knowledge and understanding, adaptation and code switching, appropriate language, and mutual respect.