If you’re considering evaluation of your culturally responsive teaching efforts, you have come to the right place. But before we dive in, let’s start with a few words of caution: Evaluation of culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is one of the final stages of your CRT initiatives, and it takes time (sometimes years of sustained commitment) before you will want to even think about evaluation. Teachers should have sufficient time to implement and develop CRT practices before you evaluate them. If you haven’t yet, you can start by reviewing our previous blogs on this topic:

school children sit on the floor in front of a teacher, who is reading an illustrated storybook

Once you have spent time prioritizing, developing, and growing CRT practices within your school community, you may come to a point where you want to begin weaving those efforts into teacher evaluations.

When you get to this point, you have several options, and the direction you take will depend on your goals. Ask yourself: What is the most important thing you are trying to accomplish from your culturally responsive teaching initiatives? Are your CRT efforts prioritizing instructional strategies, curriculum, relationships, communication, or something else? Although your initiatives might focus on several areas for improvement, you should select what is most important to determine how you will evaluate and what you will measure.

Before implementing any new indicators, get to know the content of the classroom observation rubric you want to introduce. Talk to teachers about the look-fors on the rubric. Are there any look-fors you would add? Communicate your expectations. What activities and behaviors do you expect to see when you walk into a teacher’s classroom? In addition, familiarize yourself and teachers with the corresponding questions on the NEE Student Survey, if you choose to utilize it. The student survey can give you additional data that incorporate students’ perspectives on culturally responsive teaching.

Now, let’s consider some of the approaches you can take to evaluate culturally responsive teaching.

CRT Priority: Incorporating Various Perspectives into Instruction

If you determine your CRT initiatives are most focused on instruction, you might consider evaluating teachers using NEE Indicator 1.5: The teacher incorporates diverse social and cultural perspectives on content.

A teacher who is strong in this area will frequently and strongly examine national, regional, and ethnic contributions to the content; social and cultural diversity within the content; potential for bias; and global perspectives. The teacher will incorporate perspectives of different people to facilitate students’ development of diverse social and cultural perspectives. Teachers will encourage students to share their personal perspectives as they relate to other perspectives, and they will engage students in strategies to determine if bias is present in representations and contexts. Activities in the classroom will require students to demonstrate an understanding of local and global issues related to the discipline.

Indicator 1.5 can be measured through classroom observations and on the NEE Student Survey.

CRT Priority: Demonstrating Multicultural Respect

If your CRT efforts are most aligned with demonstrating respect for students of all cultures, you might introduce NEE Indicator 2.6: The teacher incorporates students’ language, culture, family, and community.

A teacher who is strong in this area will draw explicit connections during learning activities that are related to almost all students’ cultures. Routines and procedures will clearly indicate a trusting multicultural environment, and the environment itself will include many samples from diverse cultures. The teacher will consistently teach and model respect for all students, and students will convey respect for others of different cultures.

Indicator 2.6 can be measured through classroom observations and on the NEE Student Survey.

CRT Priority: Facilitating Positive Student-Student Relationships

If your initiatives are most focused on developing positive and kind relationships, look at NEE Indicator 5.3: The teacher uses strategies that promote kindness and social competence among students in the classroom community.

This indicator is about improving social competence among students (conflict resolution, kindness, helpfulness, cooperation, and encouragement). Exemplary teaching in this area would use several research-based strategies and seize on every opportunity to promote social competence in students. When a teacher is strong in this area, students in the classroom will almost always interact in positive ways and demonstrate kindness toward one another. Teaching strategies for Indicator 5.3 may include the following:

  • Advocating prosocial values
  • Acknowledging and praising kindness
  • Providing opportunities for students to help others
  • Making sure everyone is included in activities
  • Pointing out an individual’s strengths to the group
  • Coaching friendship skills
  • Valuing diverse personalities
  • Coaching compromise and encouraging empathy during conflicts

Indicator 5.3 can be measured through classroom observations and on the NEE Student Survey.

CRT Priority: Communicating Respect and Dignity

If respectful communication is your priority, you might consider introducing NEE Indicator 6.2: The teacher’s communications with students are sensitive to cultural, gender, intellectual, and physical differences.

Exemplary teaching here would effectively use many strategies in communications with students that show sensitivity to cultural, gender, intellectual, and physical differences. Strategies include addressing the needs of students whose first language is not standard English, using gender-neutral language, accommodating various cultural backgrounds, accommodating physical disabilities, or phrasing communication in different ways so students with different intellectual abilities can understand. Teachers who are strong in this area will help students communicate respectfully for cultural, gender, intellectual, and physical differences.

NEE Indicator 6.2 can be measured through classroom observations.

Evaluating culturally responsive teaching can be somewhat tricky at first. Many teachers and students describe it as a “feeling.” You know when you walk in a room and you feel welcomed and supported – no matter who you are. But evaluating a feeling is difficult, so it’s necessary to define the specific elements that produce such a feeling. School leaders should think through what their most important goal is and work toward measuring it.

Some strategies, as offered in the four NEE indicators above, contribute to a culturally responsive classroom. While research is still needed to understand the most effective culturally responsive teaching strategies, there is promise that these practices play an important role in overcoming the student achievement gap.  While we continue to watch for new research, enough is known now for schools to get started with their work around culturally responsive teaching practices … and eventually work your way into evaluating them.

Please contact us at nee@missouri.edu or 844-793-4357 if we can help you as you consider new evaluation measures. We are happy to talk through new efforts and will support you in a smooth implementation of those processes.

Read more about topics related to culturally responsive teaching on the NEE Advantage blog.

The Network for Educator Effectiveness (NEE) is a simple yet powerful comprehensive system for educator evaluation that helps educators grow, students learn, and schools improve. Developed by preK-12 practitioners and experts at the University of Missouri, NEE brings together classroom observation, student feedback, teacher curriculum planning, and professional development as measures of effectiveness in a secure online portal designed to promote educator growth and development.