Culturally Responsive and Relevant Assessment and Evaluation
Culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy (CRRP) reflects and affirms students’ cultural and social identities, languages, and family structures. It involves careful acknowledgement, respect, and understanding of the similarities and differences among students, and between students and teachers, in order to respond effectively to student thinking and promote student learning.
Engaging in assessment from a CRRP stance requires that teachers gain awareness of and reflect on their own beliefs about who a learner is and what they can achieve (see the questions for consideration provided below). In this process, teachers engage in continual self-reflection – and the critical analysis of various data – to understand and address the ways in which teacher identity and bias affect the assessment and evaluation of student learning. Assessment from a CRRP stance starts with having a deep knowledge of every student and an understanding of how they learn best.
The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning. Assessment for learning creates opportunities for teachers to intentionally learn about each student and their sociocultural and linguistic background in order to gather a variety of evidence about their learning in a way that is reflective of and responsive to each student’s strengths, experiences, interests, and cultural ways of knowing. Ongoing descriptive feedback and responsive coaching are essential for improving student learning.
Teachers engage in assessment as learning by creating ongoing opportunities for all students to develop their capacity to be confident, independent, autonomous learners who set individual goals, monitor their own progress, determine next steps, and reflect on their thinking and learning in relation to learning goals and curriculum expectations. One way in which teachers differentiate assessment is by providing tasks that allow multiple entry points for all students and that enable all students to design and create personally meaningful assignments, projects, performances, and other demonstrations of their learning.
Assessment of learning is used by the teacher to summarize student learning at a given point in time. This summary is used to make judgements about the quality of student learning on the basis of established criteria, to assign a value to represent that quality, and to support the communication of information about achievement to each student and to parents, teachers, and others.
The evidence that is collected about student learning, including through observations and conversations as well as student products, should reflect and affirm the student’s lived experiences within their school, home, and community, their learning strengths, and their knowledge of concepts and skills. This process of triangulating evidence of student learning allows teachers to improve their understanding of how each student is progressing in their learning.
When teachers engage in the process of examining their own biases regarding classroom assessment and evaluation practices, they might consider some of the following questions:
- Are the tasks accessible to, and inclusive of, all learners? Do the tasks include appropriate and varied entry points for all students?
- Do the tasks connect to students' prior learning and give them opportunities to be sense makers and to integrate their new learning? Do the selected tasks reflect students’ identities and lived experiences?
- Do all students have equitable access to the tools they need to complete the tasks being set?
- What opportunities can teachers build into their practice to offer students descriptive feedback to enhance learning? Are graded assessment tasks used in a way that complements the use of descriptive feedback for growth?
- How can information be conveyed about students’ learning progress to students and parents in an ongoing and meaningful way?
- What is the purpose of assigning and grading a specific task or activity? Are student choice and agency considered?
- How do teacher biases influence decisions about what tasks or activities are chosen for assessment?