Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Safe Routes to School

Student Transportation Equity for Priority Populations (STEPP) Tool

The Student Transportation Equity for Priority Populations tool was developed to support equitable scoring during the Safe Route to School grant application process. The STEPP tool uses a variety of metrics related to reaching priority populations and allows grant applicants to quickly look up the equity score for schools identified in their application.        

Through the 2020 MnSRTS Strategic Plan engagement process, we heard from Minnesota communities that centralizing equity should be a priority for the MnSRTS program. The Strategic Plan includes strategies that strive to achieve equitable outcomes by developing and distributing tools, resources, and funding that prioritize communities who are more likely to rely on walking or biking for transportation, are more vulnerable to unsafe traffic conditions, or have experienced historic disinvestment.

One outcome of those strategies was the development of the STEPP tool, that helps prioritize investments with a score that is not subjective. The equity score uses seven indicators to identify priority populations in Minnesota, providing a picture of higher need for Safe Routes to School assistance. In order to be more equitable in the allocation of resources, MnSRTS will award application points based on these measures.

Solicitation applications require understanding the equity score for all involved schools. Look up your school name and use the score associated with that school. In the case of multiple schools, please enter the individual score for each school.

  1. Download the Equity Scores file. You can open .xslx files using several applications, including Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers, Google Sheets, and Microsoft Open Office.

  2. Use the "find" feature (Ctrl-F) to search the School District or School column for your school name. A screenshot showing the control-F function in Excel

    Alternatively, you can use the filter feature (small triangle in the upper right hand corner of the School District Name or School Name column in the spreadsheet) to search as well.

    A screenshot showing the filter function in Excel.

  3. If you need to start over, check the box for "Select All."

  4. You can look up the equity score for one or more schools using this method. More information on the indicators used to calculate the equity score is available under "Details on equity indicators" tab at the bottom of the spreadsheet.

Safe Routes to School Equity Score Methodology

 

Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) staff in coordination with external partners and stakeholders generated a list of relevant equity indicators for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) projects. These equity indicators, taken together, were meant to provide a picture of higher need for Safe Routes to School assistance. SRTS staff would use them in two ways: to evaluate equitable distribution of past SRTS resources , and to allocate SRTS assistance more equitably in the future.

The table below displays the full list of equity indicators.

  • Students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch
  • Students of Color or American Indian
  • Percent of population ages 5-17
  • English Language Learning Students
  • Households with access to one or zero motor vehicles
  • Non-motorists killed or seriously injured in a crash
  • Workers commuting by biking and walking

The U.S. Census provides information on vehicle access, age of residents, and commuting patterns at the census block group level. MnDOT is the source of crash data, and the Minnesota Department of Education provides other school-specific data.

To counter the subjective nature of evaluating equity, the equity score is intended to balance the scales between schools and help identify communities with populations that may have experienced historic disinvestment. As an example of how the score is used, in evaluating the Boost grant, the number of points received for the equity score are a function of the school’s equity score as a percentage multiplied by the number of points available.

For example, if a school's equity score is 67 and there are 40 available points, the outcome would be: .67 x 40 = 34 (with 34.28 rounded to nearest point) For this example, the application would score 34 points for this section.

In the case of multiple schools, we will use the average of all schools in the application.

The terms equality and equity are often used interchangeably, but they actually differ in important ways. While equality calls for an even distribution of tools and resources regardless of need, equity calls for custom tools that identify and address inequalities so that all people can reach their full potential. In other words, achieving equitable outcomes may result in an unequal distribution of resources. The MnSRTS Strategic Plan strives to achieve equitable outcomes by developing and distributing tools, resources, and funding that prioritize communities who are more likely to rely on walking or biking for transportation, are more vulnerable to unsafe traffic conditions, or have experienced historic disinvestment.

As defined in the MnSRTS Strategic Plan:

Equity in SRTS means that every student is able to safely, comfortably, and conveniently walk and bike to school, regardless of race, cultural identity, tribal affiliation, immigrant or refugee status, language, gender or sexual identity, income, religion, and whether or not a student receives special education, has a physical or mental disability, or is homeless or highly mobile. An equity approach requires working with local partners to tailor programs and allocate resources to meet the unique needs of the community.

Priority populations include individuals, groups, and communities who are more likely to rely on walking, biking, or transit for transportation; are more vulnerable to unsafe traffic conditions; or have suffered historic disinvestment in safe, comfortable, walking and biking infrastructure.