Culturally Responsive Practice in PK-12 Classrooms: Identification and Validation of Discrete Indicators

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Franco, Meredith, Clinical Psychology - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Bradshaw, Catherine, ED-EDHS, University of Virginia
Bottiani, Jessika, ED-YTNX, University of Virginia

This three-paper dissertation examined several important gaps in the research literature on culturally responsive practice (CRP) measurement in PK-12 settings to encourage accountability and increase coaching opportunities amongst educators looking to create an equitable classroom experience for all students. The first paper found a nondirectional association revealing that teachers who foster culturally responsive social relations within their classroom ecology have students who report a more positive, warm-demanding classroom climate compared to students whose teachers do not incorporate culturally responsive social relations. Students reported a climate of warm demand across classroom encounters (i.e., teacher discipline, relationship building, and instructional time), suggesting that CRP-use should not solely be limited to academic instruction. We also found that the facilitation of culturally responsive social relations during disciplinary encounters was especially important for White teachers whose cultural authority may be particularly salient when taking disciplinary actions against students. The second paper is the first of its kind to systematically examine the CRP literature for classroom-based measurement tools, with a unique focus on argument-based validity. The findings of this comprehensive review indicate a dearth of student-report measures and a sizable presence of teacher-report measures. While there where some observation measures, there were no assessments identified that incorporated information from multiple informants, which is a noteworthy gap in the literature. Moreover, when evaluated against traditional statistical standards and applied interpretation-and-use arguments, most of the 27 measures had weak or minimal evidence of validity. The third paper introduced an observational measure that can reliably detect teachers’ CRP using discrete indicators across elementary-, middle-, and high-school settings. However, the functionality of this measure across various subgroups is unknown given our inability to assess measurement invariance due to the infrequency of observed CRP behaviors. Nonetheless, a high overall CARES score was positively correlated with students’ increased classroom engagement, feelings of teacher care, and academic performance on state-administered assessments. In each of the three manuscripts, we discuss the potential implications of the findings on CRP in PK-12 settings regarding research, school-based implementation, and professional development. Taken together, these findings have important implications for moving the field closer to providing coaching and support to improve teachers’ cultural responsiveness and humility. To increase public understanding about the importance of CRP in enhancing equitable school experiences, school researchers and practitioners must recognize the positive impact of aspects of CRP on classroom climate (Paper 1), understand the different measurement approaches for effectiveness evaluations of CRP-related interventions (Paper 2), and find ways to create new, innovative measures that can be used across developmental stages and contexts (Paper 3).

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Culturally Responsive Practice, Classroom Observation, Measurement
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