Culturally-Responsive Practices - Challenge Map

Culturally-Responsive Practices

Culturally-Responsive Practices

The Challenge

Many districts struggle to implement culturally- and experientially-responsive practices; they strive to help teachers build stronger relationships with students and to implement discipline policies in a way that does not target students of color. Districts also struggle to help students be culturally responsive to each other, and to create a school environment that addresses inter-student cultural differences. Culturally-responsive practices involve recognizing and incorporating the assets and strengths all students bring into the classroom, and ensuring that learning experiences, from curriculum through assessment, are relevant to all students. Additionally, awareness of different backgrounds includes understanding and being trained to mitigate the effects of trauma they may face day-to-day.

Challenge Stats


Respondents reported this challenge is urgent


Respondents reported their schools or districts have made progress on this challenge

Ideas from the Field

  • One group created a district-wide cultural team focused on cultural understanding and poverty training so that teachers and district staff begin to understand what it means to live in poverty.
  • One district realized that principals had not been given sufficient training to successfully implement practices around cultural responsiveness. When the district launched a new MTSS approach with school-based teams, they saw that the partnership between principals and teachers made a significant difference in principal buy-in. Consistent, intensive team development resulted in much deeper principal engagement.

In the Words of District Staff

Kids [or color or from lower-income households] don't come to school knowing less, they know different. If we design assignments that are not built around the necessity of what family income has bought you, if we give things that are more open-ended and allow kids to invent and construct, we see that different skills emerge in different kids and different kids become more successful.

“That my opinion, the biggest challenge that our school has been facing. Students trying to get use to other students who speak different languages, who have different accents, who look different, who eat different than them. How can we make three thousand students live together happily, and provide a safe space for them?”


Culturally Responsive Teaching - From Edutopia, find and share resources and explore strategies to engage students by connecting to and honoring their cultures, experiences, and backgrounds.

Culturally-Responsive Practice - From Indiana University’s Center on Education and Lifelong Learning, a summary of the research on this topic, including access to a Culturally Responsive Teaching Fact Sheet.

Culturally Responsive Teaching - From Education Northwest, a guide to evidence-based practices for teaching all students equitably.

14 Resources on Culturally Responsive Teaching - From ASCD InService, learn more about using common language to relate to students, how cultural backgrounds affect students’ learning behaviors, and how equitable practices inspire greater student engagement in all classrooms with this selection of resources.

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