Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Highline Public Schools is deeply engaged in work around equity, race and identity to better foster and support an environment in which our students, families, and staff grow, thrive, and succeed.This work, and the language used to describe it, is rapidly evolving.This procedure will be reviewed at least annually to reflect current practices and language.


This procedure is designed to define some of the terms or phrases that are used in the equity policy and procedures.  Where applicable, the source of the definition has been identified.  These definitions are in alphabetical order.

Ableism: Discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities

Anti-Racist:  One who supports policies or actions that are aimed at undoing historical and current racist policies or actions.[1]

Colorism:  Prejudice or discrimination especially within a racial or ethnic group favoring people with lighter skin over those with darker skin. 

Cultural differences:  References the unique variety of life experiences our students, staff, and broader community bring to Highline School District that takes into account that those with similar life experiences are often grouped together as a culture.

Culturally Responsive/Culturally Responsive Practices:  Culturally responsive instruction or practices have been defined as a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural references to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes.[2]  Highline Public Schools is engaged in ongoing work to make meaning of this phrase for our district.

Disaggregated data:  Results from taking a closer look into smaller pockets of system-wide data to uncover patterns and trends that may be true for a subset of students, but not for all students across the system.  For example, male students of a given race/ethnicity that participate in the Free and Reduced Lunch program may have lower outcomes on standardized tests relative to results for all male students in Highline schools.

Disproportionality:  Used when one group’s population size too large or too small in comparison with another group.  Frequently used to indicate that a policy or action is impacting one group more or less than another.  

Equal:  Regarding or affecting all people in the same way. 

Equitable:  With an emphasis on eliminating significant gaps in outcomes throughout Highline School District, equitable practices seek to increase opportunities for achievement among students not performing to their full potential.

Equity:  A commitment to educate each student in a way that ensures every Highline student is achieving excellence.  Whereas equality tends to focus primarily on similarity of input, equity purposefully focuses on how those inputs impact outcomes.  We recognize that we will not have equitable outcomes without equitable processes. 

Equity lens:  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 under-served, marginalized, and diverse individuals and groups and to identify appropriate accommodation to eliminate barriers.  The district’s equity lens can be found in Procedure P2.

Equity-related learning:  A reference to the professional and personal development opportunities to learn about the diverse cultural experiences present throughout the Highline community.  Equity-related learning includes and expands on the work of Policy 2133, Cultural Competency.

Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC):  Each student has access to effective teachers and access to the same content, knowledge and skills to have the opportunity of success in school.  Students also have sufficient time to learn the curriculum.

Implicit bias:  The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.[3] 

Inclusion:  Inclusive education systems remove the barriers limiting the participation and achievement of all learners; respect diverse needs, abilities and characteristics; and eliminate all forms of discrimination in the learning environment.

Inequity:  Situations, actions, or instances that result in a lack of fairness or justice. 

Institutional bias:  A tendency for the procedures and practices of particular institutions to operate in ways that result in certain social groups being advantaged or favored and others being disadvantaged or devalued. This may not be the result of any conscious prejudice or discrimination but rather of the majority simply following existing rules or norms.

Institutional racism:  A form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions, as distinct from racism by individuals or informal social groups. It is reflected in disparities regarding criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power and education, among other things.

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. 

LGBTQ+:  Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (one's sexual or gender identity).

Microaggression:  A comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group.

Mindset:  a mental attitude or inclination; a fixed state of mind.

Opportunity gap:    Refers to the ways in which race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, English proficiency, community wealth, familial situations, or other factors contribute to or perpetuate lower educational aspirations, achievement, and attainment for certain groups of students.[4] 

Racism:  A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL):  The process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions; set and achieve positive goals; feel and show empathy for others; establish and maintain positive relationships; and make responsible decisions.

Systemic:  Refers to that which is present throughout the Highline School District.

System inequities:  Lack of fairness or justice resulting from policies, procedures, or ways of doing business in the Highline School District.

White Fragility:  Discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice.[5] 

White Privilege:  Inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice.[6] 

Highline School District 401
Adopted by the Board: November 2019

[1] Adapted from How To Be An Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi (2019)

[2] Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, The Dreamkeepers (1984)

[3] Kirwan Institute,


[5] Professor Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility (2018)