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The following is a glossary of terms and concepts referenced in the toolkit.


  • Ableism 

    • A set of beliefs or practices at the individual, community or systemic level that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be “fixed” in one form or the other (Colorado Society of School Psychologists [CSSP], 2019).

  • Bias

    • Implicit Bias: Implicit Bias refers to the attitudes, beliefs or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases often manifest themselves in the forms of microaggressions and stereotypes. Everyone has Implicit Bias, but few of us are aware of it and how it impacts our daily experiences. For educators, Implicit Bias may have a negative effect on our students’ behavior and academic outcomes. From NEA PD Site.


    • Black, Indigenous and People of Color

  • Culture

    • School culture refers to the beliefs, perceptions, relationships, attitudes and written and unwritten rules that shape and influence every aspect of how a school functions. The term also encompasses more concrete issues such as the physical and emotional safety of students, the orderliness of classrooms and public spaces or the degree to which a school embraces and celebrates racial, ethnic, linguistic or cultural diversity. (From Glossary of Educational Reform)

    • The languages, customs, beliefs, rules, arts, knowledge and collective identities and memories developed by members of all social groups that make their social environments meaningful (CSSP, 2019).

  • Culture of belonging

    • A culture of belonging, safety and care is a school climate that is welcoming and fosters trust where members of the school community are valued for their rich diversity of experiences and are encouraged to share their views, knowledge and culture. (From New Mexico Public Education Department

    • Belonging is a sense where one feels appreciated, validated, accepted and treated fairly within an environment. (Willms, J.D. (2000). Monitoring school performance for ‘standards-based reform’. Evaluation & Research in Education, 14, 237-253. Doi:10.1080/09500790008666976).

  • Cultural competence

    • Aligning personal values and behaviors and school’s policies and practices in a manner that is inclusive of cultures that are new or different from yours and the school’s and enables healthy and productive interactions. (From “Cultural Proficiency, A Manual for School Leaders, 4th Ed.,” Lindsey, 2019, p. 8).

    • Viewing one’s personal and organizational work as an interactive arrangement in which the educator enters into diverse settings in a manner that is additive to cultures that are different from the educator’s. (From Cultural Proficiency website that is currently linked to the toolkit).

    • The ability to understand, communicate with and effectively interact with people across cultures. Grounded in the respect and appreciation of cultural differences, cultural competence is demonstrated in the attitudes, behaviors, practices and policies of people, organizations and systems (CSSP, 2019).

  • Cultural proficiency

    • Holding the vision that you and the school are instruments for creating a socially just democracy; interaction with your colleagues, your students, their families and their communities as an advocate for lifelong learning to effectively serve the educational needs of all cultural groups. (From Cultural Proficiency, 2nd Ed. Lindsey 2019, p. 8).

    • Making the commitment to lifelong learning for the purpose of being increasingly effective in serving the educational needs of cultural groups. Holding the vision of what can be and committing to assessments that serve as benchmarks on the road to student success. (From Cultural Proficiency website that is currently linked to the toolkit).

  • Diversity

    • Diversity* is a description of differences usually based on identities such as race, gender, sexual orientation, class or ability, etc. Diversity does not equal equity and does not always occur intentionally.

      • Talking Points: Diversity can be defined as the sum of the ways that people are both alike and different. The dimensions of diversity include race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, language, culture, religion, mental and physical ability, class, age, education and immigration status.

      • Differences in race, gender, class, ability, etc.

      • Focuses on differences between people

      • Does not always occur intentionally

    • A synonym for variety. A diversity focus emphasizes “how many of these” we have in the room, organization, etc. Diversity programs and cultural celebrations/education programs are not equivalent to racial justice or inclusion. It is possible to name, acknowledge and celebrate diversity without doing anything to transform the institutional or structural systems that produce, and maintain, racialized injustices in our communities (CSSP, 2019).

  • Educational Equity

    • Educational equity means that every student has access to the educational resources and rigor they need at the right moment in their education across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, sexual orientation, family background and/ or family income. (Adopted from The Council of Chief State School Officers.) (From CDE Strategic Plan, p. 9).

  • Equality 

    • Giving the same thing to everyone

      • Talking Points:
        • Same standards/expectations for all

        • Same expectations across teams

        • Every person is accorded respect and value

    • The effort to treat everyone the same or to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities. However, only working to achieve equality ignores historical and structural factors that benefit some social groups and disadvantages other social groups in ways that create differential starting points (CSSP, 2019).
  • Equity*

    • When everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from, has the opportunity to thrive. Equity recognizes that some individuals have an advantage because of their identity, while others face barriers. Unlike equality, which suggests giving the same thing to everyone, equity works to provide opportunities to those facing barriers by providing additional resources to those who do not have these advantages. This requires eliminating barriers like poverty and repairing systemic injustices. (From CDPA).

    • The effort to provide different levels of support based on an individual’s or group’s needs in order to achieve fairness in outcomes. Working to achieve equity acknowledges unequal starting places and the need to correct the imbalance (CSSP, 2019).

  • Leadership

    • Leadership is a process of influence leading to the achievement of desired purposes. Successful leaders develop a vision for their schools based on their personal and professional values. They articulate this vision at every opportunity and influence their staff and other stakeholders to share the vision. The philosophy, structures and activities of the school are geared toward the achievement of this shared vision. (From “School Leadership: Concepts and Evidence,” T. Bush and D. Glover, 2003, p. 5).

  • Marginalization

    • The process that occurs when members of a dominant group relegate a particular group to the edge of society by not allowing them an active voice, identity or place for the purpose of maintaining power (CSSP, 2019).

  • Marginalized communities

    • Marginalized populations are groups and communities that experience discrimination and exclusion (social, political and economic) because of unequal power relationships across economic, political, social and cultural dimensions. Marginalization can be understood as persistent inequality and adversity resulting from discrimination, social stigma and stereotypes. (From Colorado Department of Human Services).

  • Historically marginalized students

  • Identity 

    • To be defined

  • Inclusion 

    • Inclusion* – What an organization does with diversity to ensure individuals can fully participate. Inclusion intentionally promotes a sense of belonging where people’s inherent worth and dignity are recognized and their abilities, qualities and perspectives are leveraged for the collective good. (From CDPA).

    • Talking Points:

      • The practice of setting up the conditions so those people who choose to participate in an activity/event/organization are granted access to do so regardless of personal attributes or socioeconomic status

      • Opportunities to fully participate

      • Ensures individuals have equal opportunity

      • Inclusion is transparent and allows all interested parties to participate upon their own choosing

    • A state of belonging, when persons of different backgrounds and identities are valued, integrated and welcomed equitably as decision-makers and collaborators. Inclusion involves people being given the opportunity to grow and feel/know they belong. Diversity efforts alone do not create inclusive environments. Inclusion involves a sense of coming as you are and being accepted, rather than feeling the need to assimilate (CSSP, 2019).

  • Intersectionality

    • The complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism and classism) combine, overlap or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.         – Merriam-Webster.

  • People of Color

    • Political or social (not biological) identity among and across groups of people that are racialized as nonwhite. The term “people of color” is used to acknowledge that many races experience racism in the U.S., and the term includes, but is not synonymous with, Black people (CSSP, 2019).

  • Prejudice

    • A preconceived opinion or assumption about something or someone rooted in stereotypes, rather than reason or fact, leading to unfavorable bias or hostility toward another person or group of people. Literally a “prejudgment” (CSSP, 2019).

  • Privilege 

    • Privilege is societally granted, unearned advantages accorded to some people and not others. Generally, when we talk about privilege, we are referring to systemic or structural advantages that impact people based on identity factors such as race, gender, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexuality, class and body type. We might also include the level of education and other factors of social capital under the umbrella of privilege. (From UMich Inclusive Teaching).

    • Privilege – A special right, advantage or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group (Oxford English Dictionary).

    • Privilege – An unearned benefit or right granted to a person based on membership in a particular social group with dominant identities in social identity categories (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, social class, sexuality, ability and so forth) (Allen, B. J., Difference Matters: Communicating Social Identity, 2nd ed. (Long Grove, IL: Waveland, 2011),12). 

  • Race

    • A social and political construction – with no inherent genetic or biological basis – used by social institutions to arbitrarily categorize and divide groups of individuals based on physical appearance (particularly skin color), ancestry, cultural history and ethnic classification. The concept has been, and still is, used to justify the domination, exploitation and violence against people who are racialized as nonwhite (CSSP, 2019).

  • Racism

    • The systematic subjugation of members of targeted racial groups who hold less socio-political power and/or are racialized as nonwhite, as means to uphold white supremacy. Racism differs from prejudice, hatred or discrimination because it requires one racial group to have systemic power and superiority over other groups in society. Often, racism is supported and maintained, both implicitly and explicitly, by institutional structures and policies, cultural norms and values, and individual behaviors (CSSP, 2019).

  • Underserved groups

    • Students from economically challenged communities, highly mobile families, racial minority groups, English learners and students with disabilities. (From CDE Strategic Plan, pg. 9)

  • White Privilege

    • The unearned power and advantages that benefit people just by virtue of being white or being perceived as white (CSSP, 2019).


*Universal Policy Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in State Employment 


CSSP (2019). “Key Equity Terms and Concepts: A Glossary for Shared Understanding.” Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Social Policy. Available at:

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