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IES Grant

Title: Increasing Educational Equity Through Culturally Responsive Schooling
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Supovitz, Jonathan Awardee: University of Pennsylvania
Program: Transformative Research in the Education Sciences Grants Program      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (09/01/2021 - 08/31/2024) Award Amount: $2,999,939
Type: Measurement and Development Award Number: R305T210087

Co-Principal Investigators: Horsford, Sonya; Rivera-McCutchen, Rosa; Mackey, Hollie; Lindsay, Constance; Valdez, Mariana; Keller, Lisa

Purpose: This project will develop and validate research-based measures of culturally-responsive schooling. Educators have been working for greater equity for decades, but with few enduring solutions. The stubborn statistics attest to the intransigency of the problem. Black and Latinx students are three times more likely today to attend highly segregated schools than they were less than 25 years ago. Segregated schools have lower test scores and higher drop-out rates. Students of color are less likely to be placed in AP courses, are over-represented in special education, and have higher rates of suspension and expulsion. Students of color are also less likely to graduate from high school and college.

In recent years, an emerging body of practice and research has pointed to a promising approach to identifying and addressing systemic inequities: equity-focused culturally responsive schools and culturally responsive leadership. Culturally responsive schools develop welcoming, engaging, and inclusive environments for students and families from diverse backgrounds. Positive learning environments are linked to higher teacher efficacy, decreased student absenteeism, increased graduation rates, and lower suspension rates of high school students. A culturally responsive leader builds the cultural capacity of teachers to teach diverse students effectively and promote pedagogy that validates and affirms student backgrounds. These behaviors have been shown to positively influence academic achievement and students' engagement with the school environment.

Project Activities: The research team of racially and geographically diverse scholars, including those at minority serving institutions (MSIs) and land grant universities, working in partnership with the Leadership Academy, a premier national leadership development non-profit, will collaborate with practitioners from a diverse set of schools and districts to produce a series of rubrics that capture three central domains of culturally responsive schooling and conduct a series of studies to examine their reliability and validity. The predictive validity studies will provide pioneering evidence about the relationship between cultural responsiveness and valued student outcomes. The measures developed during the course of this project will provide educators with a picture of both the dimensions of culturally responsive schooling and what different levels of engagement look like. Additionally, the team will contribute to the field's understanding of how educators across different contexts and stakeholder groups understand culturally responsive schooling, the requisite district conditions for meaningful culturally responsive school practices, and the role of the principal in brokering culturally responsive practices when there is resistance.

Products: The research team will produce a range of both practitioner and academic products. The main product is a tool kit designed for districts and schools which includes the rubrics, a training guide and description of the requisite school and district resources and conditions for meaningful culturally responsive school practices. Academic products include a series of papers on such topics as the meaning and applications of cultural responsiveness, the process of collaborative tool development, the role of the principal in brokering culturally responsive practices, as well analyses of the reliability, predictive validity, and generalizability of the project instruments. Supporting outreach activities include webinars, conference presentations, panel discussions, and guest blogs.