Classroom Equity Audits

As a classroom teacher, have you ever wondered about questions such as these?

  • Do I encourage students in the front to participate more frequently than those in the back?
  • Are my expectations for some student groups lower than my expectations for others?
  • Are first-generation students having more trouble mastering key concepts compared to other students?
  • Are the commuter students in my class struggling to fit in?

If so, you might be interested in conducting a classroom equity audit to ensure that your classroom offers equitable teaching and learning opportunities for all students.

Green (2017) defines equity as “fair access to and distribution of opportunities, power, and resources” (p. 6). Educational equity is achieved when “all learners are able to participate fully in quality learning experiences” (Poekert et al., 2020, p. 542). At the classroom level, educational equity is the responsibility of the teacher. Bombardieri (2019) describes equity audits as “internal reviews of key policies and practices to identify those that fail to effectively serve underrepresented students” (para. 4). Similar to the questions posed earlier, the need for an equity audit often emerges from a teacher’s need to investigate a specific question, or area of concern (Harris & Hopson, 2008).

Conduct Your Own Audit

Classroom equity audits are simple and straightforward. Once you have articulated the question you wish to investigate, just follow these steps:

  1. Observe. Begin by looking and listening. You can learn a great deal by simply becoming more aware of what is happening before, during, and following class time. For example, if you are wondering which student groups are having trouble fitting in, observe where students choose to sit and how they interact with one another. Make note of patterns over time to confirm or disconfirm your interpretations.
  2. Collect data. Is there data available – or easily gathered – that can help answer your question? Gradebook and attendance records may shed light. Student logins and time spent online may be useful as well. Checklists, seating charts, and video/audio recordings work well for “in the moment” data collection. For example, to clarify which students are participating in class discussion, create a class seating chart and record a tally mark each time a student speaks. If you audio record the discussion (with notice to students beforehand and for your ears only), you can analyze the recording later to assess, for example, the types of questions you ask – or responses you give – to different students.
  3. Ask questions. You can also ask direct questions of your students. If you are wondering how comfortable students feel approaching you with questions, set up a one- or two-item, anonymous survey and ask students to complete it during class time to ensure a high response rate. Or try an exit slip. For example, to gauge how well students grasped the day’s content, use the last few minutes of class time to have each student summarize or illustrate a foundational theory or concept and collect the slips as students exit the room.
  4. Reflect and adapt. Whether you choose to observe, collect data, ask questions, or all three, reflecting on your findings and adapting appropriately is crucial. If you have confirmed that your classroom includes “insiders” and “outsiders,” consider introducing activities that require students to group and re-group more often. If the data show that you frequently overlook students on the left side of the classroom, stand nearer that side of the room during discussions. If a student survey indicates that students perceive you as not easily accessible, ask what you can do to better accommodate them.

By conducting simple classroom equity audits, you can quickly and easily improve your teaching practice and your relationships with students. You can also make great strides toward narrowing gaps that might be keeping some students from getting the most out of your class.


Jana Hunzicker, Ed.D.
Associate Dean and Professor, College of Education and Health Sciences
Professor, Department of Education, Counseling, and Leadership
Bradley University