Equal Opportunity Schools Releases Report on Psychological Safety to Launch New Online Resource for US Education Market

Groundbreaking research for school district superintendents, administrators and educators now available at eoschools.org

SEATTLE, Nov. 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS), the nationwide nonprofit leader in partnering with US high schools to provide student insights and accelerate college and career access and opportunity, releases a new report on Psychological Safety in Schools to coincide with a newly branded digital site at eoschools.org

This groundbreaking report by Dr. Erin Borgan, Senior Director of Impact and Research, highlights the importance of psychological safety in schools as a precursor to learning. This original research from Equal Opportunity Schools deepens and expands on the EOS Conditions of Belonging Diagnostic, currently being used by hundreds of schools across the country to ensure they create conditions in advanced academics that facilitate the success of underserved and underrepresented students.

“This is the kind of research we need in education and that EOS has become known for,” said Dr. Sasha Rabkin, President. “We are excited about how these insights will be used in EOS partner schools to deepen their commitments to access and opportunity,” he added.

Dr. Borgan’s findings show that psychological safety is related to better decision-making and performance, cognitive functioning, problem-solving, and other important conditions of learning.

“Our brain responds to social threats and rewards the same way it does to physical threats,” writes Dr. Bogan. “This means our brains initially process being humiliated or embarrassed, for example, the same way it might process an encounter with a bear in the wild.” The research shows that we must create environments that are psychologically safe if we want to ensure that our students can learn, grow, and thrive. 

There are several approaches schools and organizations can take to foster psychological safety:

  • Lead with a growth mindset. This often involves praising effort in addition to outcomes.
  • Create equal opportunities for communication. This includes acknowledging different communication styles. Some individuals communicate best through writing, while others are better at talking through their thoughts in real-time.
  • Be transparent with policies and procedures in the classroom. It is also important that reasons for change are explained so individuals feel that they are being considered in the decision-making process.
  • Embrace Out-Of-The-Box Ideas. Having a space for individuals to dream, come up with “what if” ideas, and experiment sends the message that mistakes, failures, or “silly ideas” are all part of the road to success.
  • Celebrate Strengths and Wins. Establishing this practice normalizes a culture of comradery and teamwork, providing the team with the safety to see and appreciate the strengths of their peers.
  • Normalize Asking Questions. Soliciting questions and feedback shows individuals that it is okay not to know everything and that learning is encouraged.
  • Explicitly Promote Psychological Safety. Often, a psychologically unsafe environment can be a byproduct of a failure of emotional intelligence on the part of leaders. Self-awareness is key to ensuring that environments are psychologically safe.

US Educators, Superintendents and School District Administrators can access this free report in the EOS Library to create student environments that correlate to increased student wellbeing and success.

Equal Opportunity Schools is currently offering 100 US School Districts matching grant opportunities to partner with EOS for the 2024-2025 School Year. Interested district leaders can schedule a meeting with the EOS team here.

Dr. Erin D. Bogan is a developmental psychologist currently residing in Washington DC. She is the Senior Director of Impact and Research at Equal Opportunity Schools. Dr. Bogan earned a Ph.D in Education and in Psychology from the University of Michigan, a M.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan, and an M.S. In Education from The University of Pennsylvania.

Larry Swayne


SOURCE Equal Opportunity Schools