Skip Navigation

Ask a REL Response

Measuring culturally responsive instruction in middle school math — October 2019


Could you provide researchon measuring culturally responsive instructional practices in math?


Following an established REL West research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports and resources on measuring or analyzing culturally responsive instructional practices in math. The sources included ERIC, Google Scholar, and PsychInfo. (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your reference. Also, we searched for references through the most commonly used sources of research, but the list is not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Access to the full articles is free unless indicated otherwise.

Research References

Averill, R., Anderson, D., Easton, H., Maro, P. T., Smith, D., & Hynds, A. (2009). Culturally responsive teaching of mathematics: Three models from linked studies. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 40(2), 157–186. Abstract available from and full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “This article examines 3 models for developing and analyzing culturally responsive teaching in mathematics teacher education. The models were developed from and are illustrated by findings from a series of exploratory research studies conducted to evaluate various methods for preparing preservice teachers to address the educational implications of bicultural partnership between indigenous Maori and New Zealand European groups. The studies explored the perceptions of preservice and beginning teachers regarding the incorporation of cultural approaches in the teaching of mathematics. The implications of our research regarding the challenges of representing cultural perspectives in mathematics education are discussed in the context of the broader literature on culturally responsive education.”

REL West note: This is an international study. Considering its subject is relevant to the request, we included it here for your information.

Battey, D., Neal, R. A., Leyva, L., & Adams-Wiggins, K. (2016). The interconnectedness of relational and content dimensions of quality instruction: Supportive teacher–student relationships in urban elementary mathematics classrooms. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 42, 1–19. Full text available from

From the abstract: “Scholars assert that the often-impoverished instructional practices found in urban schools are tied to teachers’ negative relationships with African American and Latin@ (the @ sign indicates both an “a” and “o” ending). However, measures of mathematics instructional quality rarely measure relational elements of instruction. This study responds to such shortcomings by analyzing relational interactions in urban elementary mathematics classrooms in tandem with content instruction of teachers who engage in supportive relationships with African American and Latin@ students. This study identified teachers with high quality student performance, content instruction, and supportive relationships as defined through relational interactions. After selecting two teachers, the results detail relational interactions that show how these teachers established supportive relationships with students vis-à-vis their mathematics instruction. Therefore, these findings offer insight into the ways in which relational interactions add to our understanding of quality content instruction for African American and Latin@ students.”

Ninneman, A. M., Deaton, J., & Francis-Begay, K. (2017). National Indian Education Study 2015 (NCES 2017-161). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Full text available from

From the abstract: “The National Indian Education Study (NIES) is administered as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to allow more in-depth reporting on the achievement and experiences of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students in grades 4 and 8. This report focuses primarily on two themes identified during the development of the NIES survey questionnaires: (1) To what extent are AI/AN culture and language part of the curricula?; and (2) To what extent are school resources available for improving AI/AN student achievement? The student survey questions selected for this report asked AI/AN students about the knowledge they had of their Native culture and language and their opportunities to learn more. Teacher survey questions asked teachers how they acquired and integrated culturally responsive materials, activities, and instruction into their lessons to enhance student learning. Questions from the school administrator survey asked school officials about how often members of the Native community participated in school events with students, parents, and teachers.”

Powell, R., Cantrell, S. C., Malo-Juvera, V., & Correll, P. (2016). Operationalizing culturally responsive instruction: Preliminary findings of CRIOP research. Teachers College Record, 118(1), 1–46. Abstract available from and full text available from

From the abstract: “Many scholars have espoused the use of culturally responsive instruction (CRI) for closing achievement gaps, yet there is a paucity of research supporting its effectiveness. In this article, we share results of a mixed methods study that examined the use of the Culturally Responsive Instruction Observation Protocol (CRIOP) as a framework for teacher professional development. The CRIOP is a comprehensive model and evaluation tool that operationalizes culturally responsive instruction around seven elements: classroom relationships, family collaboration; assessment; curriculum/planned experiences; instruction/pedagogy; discourse/instructional conversation; and sociopolitical consciousness/diverse perspectives. This study was designed to answer the following questions: (1) Do teachers increase their use of culturally responsive practices as they participate in CRIOP professional development? (2) What is the relationship between implementation of culturally responsive instruction and student achievement in reading and mathematics? and (3) What are teachers’ perceptions of their successes and challenges in implementing culturally responsive instruction? Results of classroom observations showed that teachers had significantly higher levels of CRI implementation in the spring compared to fall. Data on student achievement indicated that students of high implementers of the CRIOP had significantly higher achievement scores in reading and mathematics than students of low implementers. The results of this study also suggest that teachers face several challenges in implementing CRI, including constraints imposed by administrators, high-stakes accountability, language barriers in communicating with families, and the sheer complexity of culturally responsive instruction. Conclusions/Recommendations: Although numerous scholars have espoused the value of culturally responsive instruction (CRI), there is limited research on its effectiveness. The results of this investigation suggest that the CRIOP shows promise both as a framework for teacher professional development and as an observation instrument in investigations of culturally responsive instruction. Findings also indicate that one of the biggest challenges in implementing CRI is its multidimensionality in that it includes several components (e.g., student relationships, family collaboration, assessment practices, instructional practices, discourse practices, and sociopolitical consciousness), which together comprise the CRIOP model. Future research including an experimental design is needed to determine the effectiveness of the CRIOP as a measure of culturally responsive instruction and as a framework for intervention.”

REL West note: The Culturally Responsive Instruction Observation Protocol (CRIOP) used in this study is available from It measures teachers’ instruction along eight key pillars: assessment practices, teacher dispositions, classroom climate, planned curriculum activities, instructional discourse, family collaboration and involvement, instructional strategies/pedagogy, and sociocultural perspectives.

Turner, E., Drake, C., McDuffie, A., Aguirre, J., Bartell, T., & Foote, M. (2012). Promoting equity in  mathematics teacher preparation: A framework for advancing teacher learning of children’s multiple mathematics knowledge bases. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 15(1), 67–82. Abstract available from and full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “Research repeatedly documents that teachers are underprepared to teach mathematics effectively in diverse classrooms. A critical aspect of learning to be an effective mathematics teacher for diverse learners is developing knowledge, dispositions, and practices that support building on children’s mathematical thinking, as well as their cultural, linguistic, and community-based knowledge. This article presents a conjectured learning trajectory for prospective teachers’ (PSTs enrolled in mathematics methods courses at six United States universities. Data sources included beginning and end-of-semester surveys, interviews, and PSTs’ development of equitable mathematics instruction.”

Additional Resources to Consult

The following resources address the measurement of culturally responsive instruction in general, not just in math.

Hsiao, Y.-J. (2015). The culturally responsive teacher preparedness scale: An exploratory study. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 8(4), 241–250. Full text available from

From the abstract: “The purpose of this study was to investigate the competencies of culturally responsive teaching and construct a Culturally Responsive Teacher Preparedness Scale (CRTPS) for the use of teacher preparation programs and preservice teachers. Competencies listed in the scale were identified through literature reviews and input from experts. The preparedness scale was created through an exploratory factor analysis. According to the factor analysis, there were three factors for CRTPS: curriculum and instruction, relationship and expectation establishment, and group belonging formation. The scale is well supported by psychometric analysis including factor loadings, internal consistency, and testing fairness with gender and race. Limitations and conclusions were made for the use of this scale.”

Muijs, D., Reynolds, D., Sammons, P., Kyriakides, L., Creemers, B. P. M., & Teddlie, C. (2018). Assessing individual lessons using a generic teacher observation instrument: How useful is the international system for teacher observation and feedback (ISTOF)? The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 50(3), 395–406. Abstract available from and full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “Teacher effectiveness, which impacts student attainment even when controlling for student characteristics, is of key importance as a factor in educational effectiveness and improvement. Improving the quality of teaching is thus the primary means by which we can enhance student learning outcomes. Thus there has long been great interest in the development of classroom observation measures in the field of educational effectiveness research (EER). The International System for Teacher Observation and Feedback (ISTOF) is a unique instrument in the field, as it was developed by a team from 20 countries using an iterative Delphi process to ensure cross-cultural relevance and validity. While previous studies have looked at psychometric properties of the instrument, they have not interrogated the extent to which ISTOF is useful for evaluating individual lessons and providing feedback to teachers. In this study, we observed three grade 4 mathematics lessons taken from the NCTE video library at Harvard University for this purpose. Findings show that ISTOF can provide a highly differentiated and fine-grained picture of individual lessons, but that the strengths of the generic approach in terms of breadth are to an extent counterbalanced by limitations such as the lack of attention to content richness.”

Muniz, J. (2019). Culturally responsive teaching: A 50-state survey of teaching standards. Washington, DC: New America. Full text available from

From the abstract: “New America analyzed professional teaching standards in all 50 states to better understand whether states’ expectations for teachers incorporate culturally responsive teaching. To support this analysis, we identify eight competencies that clarify what teachers should know and be able to do in light of research on culturally responsive teaching. Our research finds that while all states already incorporate some aspects of culturally responsive teaching within their professional teaching standards, the majority of states do not yet provide a description of culturally responsive teaching that is clear or comprehensive enough to support teachers in developing and strengthening their CRT practice throughout their careers. As an added resource, we have assembled excerpts from state standards in which CRT is already well articulated, as well as a data visualization that describes the prevalence of CRT competencies in teaching standards across states.”

Rhodes, C. M. (2017). A validation study of the culturally responsive teaching survey. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 5(1), 45–53. Full text available from

From the abstract: “Amidst the ethnic and linguistic diversity in adult English language classes, there is heightened importance to using culturally responsive teaching practices. However, there are limited quantitative examinations of this approach in adult learning environments. The purpose of this investigation was to describe patterns of culturally responsive teaching practices of adult ESOL teachers and to establish the psychometric properties of the Culturally Responsive Teaching Survey (CRTS), a newly-developed self-assessment survey. Based on Ginsberg and Wlodkowski’s Motivational Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching, this 17-item online survey establishes patterns of teaching praxis appropriate for adult English language classrooms. Findings revealed a trend of regular to frequent use of the majority of the culturally responsive teaching practices indicated in the CRTS. In addition, analyses demonstrated that the CRTS is a reliable, uni-dimensional scale which yielded positive correlations with multi-cultural knowledge and teaching skills. Thus, the CRTS provides a useful tool for examining the praxis of culturally responsive teaching in adult, second-language classrooms. These findings will lead to improved understanding of how adult educators incorporate culturally responsive teaching practices in ethnically and linguistically diverse learning environments, in addition to supporting the use of this instrument in future research studies.”


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used:

[(“Measure” OR “instrument”) AND (“instructional practice” OR “pedagogical practice”) AND (“cultural responsiveness” OR “culturally responsive” OR “culturally competent” OR “culturally relevant”) AND (“math” OR “mathematics”)]

Databases and Resources

We searched Google Scholar and ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When searching and selecting resources to include, we consider the criteria listed below.

  • Date of the Publication: References and resources published within the last 15 years, from 2004 to present, were included in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations and academic databases. Priority is also given to sources that provide free access to the full article.
  • Methodology: Priority is given to the most rigorous study designs, such as randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental designs, and we may also include descriptive data analyses, survey results, mixed-methods studies, literature reviews, or meta-analyses. Other considerations include the target population and sample, including their relevance to the question, generalizability, and general quality. Priority is given to publications that are peer-reviewed journal articles or reports reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations. If there are many research reports available, we select those with the strongest methodology, or the most recent of similar reports. When there are fewer resources available, we may include a broader range of information. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the West Region (Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory West at WestEd. This memorandum was prepared by REL West under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0012, administered by WestEd. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.