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Cultivating Culturally Responsive Reform: The Intersectionality of Backgrounds and Beliefs on Culturally Responsive Teaching Behavior


Despite numerous education reform efforts, national academic achievement data continues to reflect a marked disparity between culturally and linguistically diverse students and their white counterparts. Currently, 50% of K-12 public school students are students of color, and this percentage is projected to increase as the cultural composition of United States diversifies. Research indicates that, regardless of race, the vast majority of educators are not adequately prepared to respond to the academic and socioemotional needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students, further emphasizing the need for legitimate reform in educational policy and pedagogical practice.

This study explored how the practice of culturally responsive pedagogy can help close opportunity gaps and improve instructional practices and academic success rates for students of color. The study takes a comprehensive look at federal policy, theoretical frameworks, and the foundations of culturally responsive pedagogy. It goes on to examine culturally responsive pedagogy in practice, as well as teacher, school, and leadership characteristics that help promote a culturally responsive educational environment. This multiphase mixed methods approach utilized surveys, background questionnaires, and case study data from self-selected improvement pathways to 1) better understand the intersectionality of teachers’ backgrounds and beliefs and its impact on pedagogical behavior, and 2) identify the impact of collegial coaching and personalized professional development design on the improvement of culturally responsive teaching and classroom management self-efficacy. The study found that cultural disposition awareness, values-influenced teaching philosophy, and propensity for professional growth impact culturally responsive teaching behavior. The study also determined that culturally responsive pedagogy self-efficacy beliefs, which are predictive of behavioral change, increased for teachers in all three improvement pathways, though the extent of increase varied based on the selected pathway and case study participant. These findings have implications for practice as teachers can improve their ability to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students, and implications for policy, in that schools and districts can design policy that supports effective implementation of professional development and coaching that centers on the cultivating self-efficacy in culturally responsive instruction for the purpose of improved academic and socioemotional outcomes for all students.

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