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Cultural Proficiency Program

This fall I took a Critical Issues in Education course at The College of Saint Rose taught by the Assistant District Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction at Capital Region BOCES, Lynne Wells, a part of the School Building Leader Advanced Certification Program (CAS). I had the opportunity to collaborate with Matthew Grimes the Equity Coordinator at Niskayuna Central School District, and develop a Cultural Proficiency Program as a case study solution for a hypothetical school district.

We called the school district Metropolis School District and randomly pooled data from multiple existing school districts in the area to create a relatable student, faculty, and administration populations. After reviewing and identifying the school district's student diversity data, and student achievement data. We researched cultural proficiency and its effects on Student Achievement and Student Social-Emotional wellbeing. Research shows the relationship between culturally proficient educators and Student Achievement and Student Social-Emotional welfare. In case you're wondering what Cultural Proficiency is (Lindsey, Robins, and Terrell, 2003) refers to it as the ability of teachers and administrators to recognize diversity and operate in a manner that respects the uniqueness of each individual and culture by ensuring policies, practices, and values support all students.

  • Assumptions that reinforce inequitable practices often are deeply embedded in school’s culture (Bustamente, Nelson, & Onwuegbuzie, 2009)

  • Students from non-dominant cultures can be unintentionally disadvantaged if adaptations are not made for them (Landa, 2011)

  • Negative stereotypes about ability can have a significant negative impact on the intellectual performance of minority students (Landa, 2011)

  • Educators overuse their own experience, and may misinterpret communication and behaviors of students (Keiser, 2009)

  • Teacher beliefs can reproduce inequitable practices such as low expectations, biased assessments, materials, and practice, and growing power differential (Kahn, Lindstrom, Murray, 2014).

  • Culturally Proficient teachers believe that diversity adds positive value to the educational enterprise (Landa, 2011)

  • When a teacher is culturally proficient, all students feel that they have a place in the classroom because cultural difference is acknowledged and recognized as having value (Saphire, 2017)

  • Awareness of issues pertaining to diversity can lead to higher student expectations, more culturally appropriate instruction, as well as more effective collaboration with families (Kahn, Lindstrom, Murray, 2014)

  • Culturally responsive leadership positively influences academic achievement and students’ engagement (Byrd, 2016)

  • Young people who fail to achieve adequate social-emotional competence have a higher probability of experiencing a lack of academic success, and of being at-risk throughout adolescence and adulthood (Hartup, 1992; Ladd, 2000).

  • Increasing cultural proficiency in our systems, ourselves, and our students can assist our efforts to increase SEL competencies

  • Culturally Responsive Practices (CRP) requires skill in all SEL competencies and has been shown to be effective in improving student academic performance (Farinde-Wu, Glover, & Williams, 2017).

  • When schools commit to promoting students’ social-emotional learning, they become positioned to engage all education stakeholders and create a safe, equitable, and engaging school climate (Duffell, Elias, & Pickeral, 2017)

We designed a Cultural Proficiency Program that aims to increase teachers’ Cultural Proficiency to improve student success by meeting students academic and social-emotional needs. The program operates using a Cultural Proficiency Continuum to measure teacher cultural proficiency and increase teacher cultural proficiency by providing a well-designed year-long series of professional development workshops, subcommittees, and initiatives. The program was designed in a sustainable manner. As the first cohort that would graduate culturally proficient from the program will be trained to supervise and deliver it in the next years. This will significantly work as a cost-cutting strategy for the school district, instead of outsourcing the program implementation.


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