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Applying Culturally Relevant Strategies to Systemic Reform Los Angeles Unified School District. NCRESSt Conference Creating Opportunities to Learn Denver, Colorado Feb. 16-17, 2006 Presenters Noma LeMoine Ebrahim Maddahian Daniel Patton Randy Ross Liza Scruggs. Overview.

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applying culturally relevant strategies to systemic reform los angeles unified school district

Applying Culturally Relevant Strategies to Systemic Reform Los Angeles Unified School District

NCRESSt Conference

Creating Opportunities to Learn

Denver, Colorado Feb. 16-17, 2006


Noma LeMoine

Ebrahim Maddahian

Daniel Patton

Randy Ross

Liza Scruggs

  • Defining the problem (Randy Ross)
  • Framework (Ebrahim Maddahian)
  • Historical Background (Liza Scruggs)
  • Implementation (Noma LeMoine)
  • Program Evaluation (Dan Patton)
  • Discussion (All)
defining the problem

Defining the Problem

Randy Ross Ph.D.

what the research says
What the Research Says:
  • “There is a direct link between student achievement and the extent to which teaching employs the cultural referents of students” Geneva Gay, 2000
  • “... for students who experience disproportionate levels of academic failure, the extent to which the students’ language and culture are incorporated into the school program constitutes a significant predictor of academic success” Jim Cummins, 1989
what happens when learning encounters are culturally relevant
What happens when learning encounters are culturally relevant?
  • High attendance rate
  • Rigorous education program
  • Sustained academic achievement
  • Graduation from High School
  • Post-graduation success
  • Attendance rates
  • Suspensions (and expulsions)
Attendance Rates (Secondary, November 2005) for African-American, Native American, and Latino Students are Lower

Source: LAUSD, January 2006

in 2004 05 lausd schools suspended african american students at an alarming rate
In 2004-05, LAUSD Schools Suspended African-American Students at an Alarming Rate

Source: LAUSD, January 2006

educational rigor
  • College-Prep Curriculum
  • Special Education
far fewer african american and latino students take college prep courses
Far fewer African-American and Latino Students Take College-Prep Courses

Source: Jordan Rickles and Jeff White, “A-G Course Access and Completion,” Presentation to LAUSD Board of Education Educational Equity Committee, December 8, 2005, Program Evaluation and Research Branch

african american students suffer from disproportionate placement in special education
African American Students Suffer from Disproportionate Placement in Special Education

Special Education Enrollment by Ethnicity, LAUSD, December 2004

Source: California Department of Education, Special Education Division.

academic achievement
  • Proficiency in Reading and Math
  • Passage of College-prep courses
far fewer african american and latino students read proficiently spring 2005
Far Fewer African American and Latino Students Read Proficiently (Spring 2005)

Source: LAUSD Board of Education, Educational Policy Unit, 2005.

far fewer african american and latino students are proficient in math spring 2005
Far Fewer African American and Latino students are Proficient in Math (Spring 2005)

Source: LAUSD Board of Education, Educational Policy Unit, 2005.

far fewer latino and african american graduates complete a college prep curriculum 2003 04
Far Fewer Latino and African-American Graduates Complete a College-Prep Curriculum (2003-04)

Source: California Department of Education, Educational Demographics Unit.

  • Passage of high-school exit exam (CAHSEE)
  • Graduation rate
over of african american students in the class of 2006 may fail to pass the california hs exit exam
Over ¼ of African American Students in the Class of 2006 may fail to pass the California HS Exit Exam

Source: LAUSD Board of Education, Educational Policy Unit, "CAHSEE FAILURE AND NON-GRADUATION: A


fewer latino and african american students graduated from lausd in 2005
Fewer Latino and African-American Students Graduated from LAUSD in 2005

Source: LAUSD, January 2006.

resultant statement of the problem
Resultant Statement of the Problem
  • The gap in achievement for Latinoand African American students in LAUSD schools is wide in part because these students’ learning encounters with teachers are insufficiently aligned with their core cultural referents.
theoretical framework for a culturally relevant and responsive education

Theoretical Framework For a Culturally Relevant and Responsive Education

Ebrahim Maddahian Ph.D.

defining culture from an educational perspective
Defining Culture from an Educational Perspective

American Heritage Dictionary defines “Culture” as:

  • The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, beliefs, arts, and all other products of human work and thought characteristics of a community or population.
  • A style of social and artistic expression peculiar to a society or a class.
  • Intellectual and artistic activity, and the work produced by it.
  • The act of developing the social, moral, and intellectual faculties through education.
  • A high degree of taste and refinement formed by aesthetic and intellectual training.
  • The cultivation of the soul.
a careful analysis of this content includes the following elements
A careful analysis of this content includes the following elements:
  • Behavior patterns,
  • Belief systems,
  • Human work products,
  • Human thought products,
  • Art forms, and
  • Human’s social, moral, and intellectual development through learning that define a specific group of people
learning definitions
Learning Definitions:
  • Behavioral modification especially through experience or conditioning
  • The act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skill
  • Knowledge or skill gained through schooling or study
  • The process by which we receive and process sensory data, encode such data as memories within the neural structures of our brain, and retrieve those memories for subsequent use
what do we mean by crre
What do we mean by CRRE
  • A comprehensive system of education that incorporates student’s life experiences (emotional, social, cognitive and cultural) into schooling activities and processes.
socio cultural constructivism
Socio-Cultural Constructivism
  • Biological and psychological growth do not occur in isolation, but start at birth through social interaction that leads to cognitive development
important concepts
Important Concepts
  • Zone of Proximal Development: The difference between independent learning without supervision and guidance and possible potential learning with guidance of a knowledgeable adult in collaboration with more able peers. (Vgotsky).
  • Children develop their cognitive abilities and psychological tools necessary for learning and problem solving through cultural and social interactions. (Ladson-Billings).
  • Teacher’s Role
cultural differences
Cultural Differences
  • People raised in different cultural environments may behave differently – yet appropriately - in the same situation.
  • They may show evidence of a different set of values about the same condition, may acquire the same knowledge in different ways and may demonstrate their learning in different modes.
  • Since students from diverse racial, religious, and geographical backgrounds exhibit unique deep-seated cultural traditions of learning and of making sense of the world around them, it is essential for educational systems and educators to not only respect and value students’ cultural backgrounds and histories, but also to build instructional strategies appropriate for and relevant to them.
culturally relevant and responsive initiative in los angeles unified school district chronology

Culturally Relevant and Responsive Initiative in Los Angeles Unified School District Chronology

Liza Scruggs Ph.D.

  • Facts about the District
  • Students
  • Ethnicities
  • Staff
  • Communities
  • Other Information
  • June, 2001, Hayes resolution adopted authorizing the development of an Action Plan to address the needs of African American and other underachieving students in the LAUSD
  • The Steering Committee
  • Coalitions
  • Conferences
  • The Action Plan - 5 Tenets, 95 Steps

Researchers/Scholars collaborated with LAUSD staff and community in 2001 about the relationship between culture, teaching and learning

instructional practice
Instructional Practice
  • Carol Lee
    • CRR Pedagogy
  • John Rickford
    • Standard English Learners
  • Roland Tharp
    • Classroom Ecology
  • Vinetta Jones
    • Secondary Math
  • Jomills Braddock
    • Policy
teacher quality standards and parent student engagement
Teacher Quality, Standards and Parent & Student Engagement
  • Phyllis Hart
    • Standards, coaches
  • Sam Redding
    • Parents as partners
  • Reginald Clark
    • Parent Involvement
  • Jerome Freiberg
    • Student resilience
  • December, 2002 Huizar, Hayes, Tokofsky resolution adopted which expanded the closing the achievement gap initiative to specifically address the needs of Latino and African American students and embed culturally responsive pedagogy into all district initiatives
  • June 24, 2003, The Board adopted a motion/resolution to continue full support, implementation, and monitoring of the African Action Plan
school policies that promote equity
School Policies That Promote Equity
  • Access to College Preparatory Courses
  • Elimination of Tracking and Remedial Courses
  • Professional Development on Culturally Relevant and Responsive Education and infusion into all instructional curriculums
  • Support to Meet Student Needs (SELs/ELs)
  • Infusing Instructional Strategies That Promote Equity & Access to Core Curricula
  • Continuous Assessment of the School Culture and Programs
l a unified school district improving opportunities to learn

L. A. Unified School DistrictImproving Opportunities to Learn

Noma LeMoine Ph.D.

Director, Academic English Mastery Closing the Achievement Gap Branch

the action plan

The Action Plan

For a Culturally Relevant Education Than Benefits African American Students and All Students

the action plans tenets
The Action Plans Tenets
  • Tenet 1 - Opportunity to Learn (student focused)
  • Tenet 2 - Opportunity to Learn (adult focused)
  • Tenet 3 - Professional Development
  • Tenet 4 - Parent Engagement
  • Tenet 5 - Evaluation and Monitoring
action plan recommendations
Action Plan Recommendations
  • Culturally Relevant and Responsive Instruction
  • A College-Prep Curriculum
  • Academic English Mastery for Standard English Learners
  • Highest Quality Teachers
  • Professional Development for all stakeholders
  • Parent Engagement
  • District Accountability
  • District Monitoring
local district implementation

Local District Implementation

Local District Blueprints

• Baseline data

• Action steps

• Allocation of Resources

• Internal monitoring

tenet 1 recommendations
Tenet 1Recommendations
  • Central and Local District offices will provide comprehensive professional development for administrators, teachers, counselors, and coaches on Culturally Responsive and Culturally Contextualized Teaching to ensure that instruction for African American students is relevant and responsive to their learning needs.
  • Principals, counselors, and teachers in every high school in LAUSD must work closely with parents and students to ensure that all African American students know of, have access to, enroll in, and pass a college prep curriculum, including A-G course requirements, honors courses, and AP courses.
implementing tenet 1
Implementing TENET 1
  • A-G Initiative
  • Special Education Initiative
    • Addressing disproportionality
      • Re evaluate AA Special Ed students
      • Ten School Pilot
  • Initiative to address attitudes and beliefs
    • Consortium of scholars
    • One million dollars allocated over 3 years
  • Algebra & Algebra Readiness Plan
        • 367 Math Coaches
tenet 2 recommendations
Tenet 2Recommendations
  • Pursuant to its education of Standard English Learners (SELs), the district will continue to implement its Academic English Mastery Program (AEMP), which provides professional development for teachers and other school staff aimed toward improving the ability of schools to promote language acquisition in SELs.
  • The district must make every effort to ensure that African American children have equal access to the highest quality teachers and administrators within and across schools.
implementing tenet 2
Implementing Tenet 2
  • The Academic English Mastery


• Small Schools Initiative

  • Human Resources
  • Changes in hiring practices
    • Changes in procedures for interviewing teachers
professional development program for educating sels
Professional Development Program for Educating SELs
  • Fall Educational Seminar Series
  • Intensive Summer Institutes
  • Periodic Curricular Focus Courses
  • Technology Training Courses
  • A Weekend Professional Development Conference
  • Grade Level Student Achievement Teams (GSAT)
  • Grade level Collaboratives
  • Instructional Academies
professional development outcomes
Professional Development Outcomes
  • Teachers build knowledge and understanding of Culturally Responsive pedagogy
  • Teachers build knowledge and understanding of Linguistically Responsive Pedagogy
  • Teachers engage in collaboration and study of research-based instructional methodologies and infuse them into daily instruction
  • Teachers are provided with opportunities to discuss, evaluate, & modify, their instruction based on observed students outcomes
tenet 3 recommendation
Tenet 3Recommendation
  • Where change is expected andneeded to improve African American students opportunity to learn, the LAUSD must make every effort to ensure that its staff –Central, Local District, and School– and the external support providers responsible for change, are adequately trained and have the pedagogical knowledge and skill to effectively enhance the academic achievement of African American students.
implementing tenet 3
Implementing Tenet 3
  • One Million dollar contract with a consortium of scholars to deconstruct Negative Beliefs and Attitudes Towards students of Color
  • Comprehensive Professional development Plan to build knowledge and understanding of culturally responsive instruction
    • District Response
      • Literature Circles
      • Strategies Reference and Resource Manual
      • Professional Development Models
tenet 4 parent engagement recommendation

Tenet 4PARENT ENGAGEMENTRecommendation

Parents should be given the opportunity and tools to be the most effective educational advocates for their children.

implementing tenet 4
Implementing Tenet 4
  • Parent Ombudsmen in all 8 Local Districts
  • Parent Involvement Centers on school sites
    • Staffed by trained parent/community representatives
    • Provides parent education workshops
  • Districtwide Parent…
tenet 5 recommendation

Tenet 5Recommendation

Ongoing planning, systematic monitoring, reporting

tenet 5 recommendations
  • The district will annually evaluate the actions taken by various parties (Superintendents, Local Districts, Schools, Programs, Administrators, Teachers, and Staff) to close the achievement gap of African American students.
  • The assessment should also include an analysis of the impact of those actions on student outcomes (attendance, course-taking patterns, and standardized test scores in reading, writing, language, and math).
  • The District’s annual report should be completed and disseminated to the board and the summit of African American leaders, among others, no later than December 31 of each year, in order to ensure that:
      • the evaluation gets externally and independently vetted
      • the evaluation guides the district’s future efforts to close the gap in achievement of African American students.
implementing tenet 5
Implementing Tenet 5


  • External Monitoring Report No. 1
  • External Monitoring Report No. 2
  • External Monitoring Report No. 3
  • External Monitoring Report No. 4
  • External Monitoring Report No. 5
  • External Monitoring Report No. 6
  • External Monitoring Report No. 7
crre action plan evaluation findings and activities 2001 to present

CRRE Action Plan Evaluation Findings and Activities2001 to Present

Daniel Patton, Ph.D.

Program Evaluation and Research Branch

Los Angeles Unified School District

evaluation tenet 1
Evaluation – Tenet 1
  • The effectiveness of the District’s CRRE implementation will be assessed using:

- Standardized test scores

- Evaluation of CRRE prevalence in classroom practice.

- Special Education placement of African- American and Latino students

findings tenet 1
Findings: Tenet 1
  • Student Achievement outcomes
      • Achievement gap persists
      • Variability of achievement gap within ethnic groups and

across local districts

  • CRRE Classroom Implementation

Implementation study (Sept, 2004)

      • CRRE not implemented in LAUSD classrooms

Achievement Gap Case Studies (African-American and Latino)

      • CRRE implemented more often in higher achieving schools
findings tenet 11
Findings: Tenet 1
  • Progress:

Reduced discipline and suspension rates

    • 75% of Local Districts reduced the number of African-American students suspended over past three years.
  • Persistent Challenge:

Special Education referrals for African-American & Latino students

      • Increase in Special Education referral rates for African- American and Latino students from 1999 to 2003.
evaluation tenet 11
Evaluation – Tenet 1
  • The effectiveness of the District’s CRRE implementation will be measured by:
      • the documented scope & quality of the efficacious actions to implement CRRE;
      • increased availability of A-G, honors, and AP courses to African-American students; and,
      • the extent to which the gap in AA students’ enrollment in and passage of A-G & other college preparatory courses closes annually.
findings tenet 12
Findings: Tenet 1
  • Increased enrollment of African-American students in college preparatory courses
    • A-G report
      • 33% of Local Districts have increased the enrollments of African-American students in AP courses
  • Closing the Achievement Gap in Student Performance on A-G, honors, and AP courses
    • Presented in Student Outcomes Report (Annual)
evaluation tenet 2
Evaluation – Tenet 2
  • The effectiveness of the District’s CRRE implementation will be assessed by:
    • analysis of the scope and depth of AEMP’s implementation in schools and classrooms with large proportions of African-American students;
    • analysis of student achievement outcomes on standardized tests;
    • the extent to which CRRE strategies are embedded in LAUSD’s Core Literacy and Math initiatives;
    • creation of a master calendar of professional development that trains teachers to effectively instruct Standard English Learners.
findings tenet 2
Findings: Tenet 2
  • Evaluation of Professional Development Implementation (Sept, 2004)
    • Raised consciousness re: CRRE
    • Obstacles to implementation
      • Time
      • Clarity of methods
      • Professional development support
      • Resistance
      • Budget
findings tenet 21
Findings: Tenet 2
  • Stakeholder Report (November, 2004)
      • Students did not perceive high levels of respect for cultural diversity from school instructional staff
      • Students did not perceive that all were treated equally by teachers and administrators
  • Achievement Gap Case Studies (Sept, 2004)
      • Narrowing the Gap schools had teachers with more experience and greater stability
evaluation tenet 3
Evaluation - Tenet 3
  • The effectiveness of the District’s CRRE implementation will be assessed by:
      • An analysis of the level of CRRE implementation scope and depth of implementation as demonstrated in schools with African American students
    • Impact of Professional development on African-American student achievement
      • Documentation of professional development delivery, utilization and budget allocations
findings tenet 3
Findings: Tenet 3
  • Analysis of the level of CRRE implementation in schools and classrooms with African-American students
    • CRRE Classroom Implementation Evaluation (Sept, 2004)
      • Less than one-half of the teachers incorporated CRRE into instruction
      • Only limited evidence of mutual respect and acceptance, respect for cultural diversity, and high expectations for student achievement
findings tenet 31
Findings: Tenet 3
  • Achievement Gap Case Studies (Sept, 2004)
    • Narrowing the Gap schools had:
      • More ‘hands-on’ administration
      • More collaborative teaching and learning
      • Parent involvement more geared toward instruction
findings tenet 32
Findings: Tenet 3
  • Evaluation of Effective School and Teacher Practices in the Ten Schools Program (May, 2005)
    • Higher performing schools exhibited
      • Positive teacher-student interaction
      • Positive school staff relationships
      • Quality professional development
      • Evidence of CRRE school practice
evaluation tenet 5 recommendation 6
Evaluation – Tenet 5(Recommendation 6)
  • Parents
    • The quality of the district’s efforts to engage AA parents in the education of their children will be assessed through an annual survey of AA parents.
findings tenet 5 recommendation 6
Findings: Tenet 5(Recommendation 6)


  • Fifty-four percent (54%) of parent respondents viewed their experience with teachers as positive and helpful.
  • Few parents felt that their children’s cultural experiences were incorporated in their school experiences.
  • Most parents said that their involvement in their children’s education consisted of helping them with their homework
  • Obstacles to more active school-based involvement included:
    • Parents believed that they were not informed of pertinent information by schools (23%)
    • Work schedules (19%)
    • Parents’ feelings of disconnection impeded their attendance at school events (30%)
Copies of CRRE Evaluation reports are available at the Program Evaluation and Research branch’s website:

Other Reports and Documents relative to the Los Angeles

Unified School District’s District’s Closing the Achievement

Gap Initiatives are available at the Closing the Achievement

Gap wedsite: