National center for culturally responsive educational systems
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National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems. Shelley Zion, Project Coordinator University of Colorado, Denver. Purpose. Provide technical assistance and professional development to.

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National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems

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National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems

Shelley Zion, Project Coordinator

University of Colorado, Denver


Provide technical assistance and professional development to

  • close the achievement gap between students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and their peers, and

  • reduce inappropriate referrals to special education.

Critical Foci

Culturally responsive practices

Early intervention


Positive behavioral supports


increase the use of prevention and

early intervention strategies,

decrease inappropriate referrals to special education, and

increase the number of schools using effective literacy and behavioral interventions for students who are culturally and linguistically diverse.

General & Special Education Audiences

  • Students

  • Families

  • Practitioners

  • Administrators

  • Researchers

  • Teacher Educators

  • Policy Makers


  • Research syntheses

  • Policy briefs

  • Public service announcements

  • Research-based articles

  • On Points for Practitioners

  • Virtual Professional Development Modules

  • Activities and curricula for culturally responsive practice

  • Web-based Data Maps

  • Virtual State-wide “campuses”

  • Meta-tagged Library


Supporting state education agencies and local school systems to assure a quality, culturally responsive education for all students.

Value Added

NCCRESt supports the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as it extends the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Key Activities

  • Determine status for each state in collecting data required in Section 618(c) of IDEA.

  • Develop a web-based sensitive and responsive continuous improvement cycle for each participating SEA.

  • Synthesize culturally responsive research-based practices that support learning and development for all students

  • Assist SEAs in developing plans to address disproportionality that focus on widespread screening and effective early intervention, literacy, and positive behavioral support.

  • Link change impact to specific PD and improved teacher quality

  • Engage sites in examining patterns in impact of change efforts.

  • Evaluate impact of change efforts on stakeholders and organizations

What are Culturally Responsive Educational Systems?

Culturally responsive educational systems are grounded in the belief that students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds excel in academic endeavors when

  • their culture, language, heritage, and experiences are valued and used to facilitate learning and development; and

  • they are provided access to high quality teachers, programs, curricula, and resources.

Culturally responsive educational systems benefit all students.

Culturally responsive educational systems are concerned with instilling ethics of care, respect, and responsibility in the professionals who serve culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Assumptions About the Causes of Disproportionate Representation

What it is not:

intrinsic or family-based





Socio-cultural Contexts

Background Assumptions about Learning and Development

Individual agency

Contextual factors

Conceptual Framework for Understanding Disproportionality: Beliefs, Policies, and Practices

Society at Large



School District Policies and Practices




Families and

Sociopolitical Context

Legal Context



High Stakes Testing


Background Assumptions about the Solutions to Disproportionality

Improved general ed instruction

Culturally Responsive Practice

Federal and State Policies

Legal requirements at federal and state levels concerning the determination of eligibility for special education.

Teacher and administrator quality indicators and procedures for working collaboratively with universities and school districts to improve preparation and professional development programs.

Governmental policies and mandates related to school financing and the allocation of resources.

Re-examine & Revise

Accountability measures, including how high stakes testing results are used to evaluate schools.

District Level Policies and Practices

Collaboration and Partnerships


  • Curricula

  • Tracking

  • Testing

  • Discipline

  • Resource Allocation

  • Hiring

Community Agencies

Special & General Ed

Local leaders

Teacher education programs

Professional Development

Top- down


School Leadership

Culturally Responsive Teachers

Quality Literacy Instruction

Behavior Supports

Early Intervention

What is


to be



Intensive assistance,

as part of

General Ed

support system

Quality instruction


General Ed


Families and Communities


Activity Arenas

Networking and Dissemination

Who’s on Board?

  • Kayte Fearn, Council for Exceptional Children

  • Ronald Felton, Miami-Dade County Public Schools

  • Beth Harry, University of Miami

  • Judith Heumann, The World Bank

  • Asa Hilliard, Georgia State University

  • Stephanie Hirsh, National Staff Development Council

  • Dixie Jordan, Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights

  • Joy Markowitz, Project Forum, National Association of State Directors of Special Education

  • Festus Obiakor, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee

  • Delia Pompa, National Association of Bilingual Education

  • Kristin Reedy, Northeast Regional Resource Center

  • Virginia Roach, Teachers for a New Era

  • Anthony Sims, Illinois State Board of Education

  • Brenda L. Townsend, University of South Florida

  • Stanley Trent, University of Virginia

  • Edward Lee Vargas, Hacienda La Puente Unified School District

NCCRESt Personnel

Principal Investigators

Alfredo J. Artiles, Vanderbilt University

Janette K. Klingner, University of Colorado at Boulder

Elizabeth B. Kozleski, University of Colorado at Denver

Cheryl A. Utley, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, University of Kansas

Project Officer

Grace Zamora Durán, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education

Project Staff

Carolyn Ottke-Moore, Materials & Event Developer

Rhona Jackson, Project Administrator

Steve Kennedy, Policy Analyst

Jennifer Quinlan, Web Master

Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, Professional Development Coordinator

Jenn Light, Instructional Technology

Heraldo Richards, Researcher

Project Coordinator

Shelley Zion

University of Colorado at Denver

Director, Networking and Dissemination

David P. Riley, Education Development Center, Inc.

Continuous Improvement Data Analysts

David Gibson, VIMST

Michael Knapp, VIMST

Support Staff

Olu Adesola

Alexandra Schroeder

Aimee Wride

Laura Barletta

Ayanna Brown

Kristy Martinez,

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