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Beyond 'acting white': The impact of culturally responsive pedagogy within a culture of accountability

Posted on:2011-04-07Degree:Ed.DType:Dissertation
University:Cambridge CollegeCandidate:Conner, Michael TerrellFull Text:PDF
GTID:1446390002964670Subject:African American Studies
Since its inception in 2001, Public Law 107-110 (No Child Left Behind) has put a direct emphasis on closing the achievement gap between minority students and their counterparts by implementing accountability systems. One component of this accountability system for educational districts in the United States is measuring academic achievement through high-stakes testing. At the same time, culturally relevant pedagogy is proclaimed to be a new innovative approach to provide instructional methods that promotes academic achievement and success for African-American youth. The purpose of this study was to determine whether culturally relevant pedagogy can be a solution in this age of accountability and its focus on high-stakes assessment practices. Specifically, can culturally relevant pedagogy improve the high-stakes assessment scores of African American youth in the content area of literacy in this age of accountability? A multicultural literacy program called Sowing S.E.E.D.S (social, emotional, and educational development of students through children's literature) was implemented in an urban elementary school district in the Northeast with the goal of ensuring an authentic learning experience for each individual student; however, this program has never been examined in this high-stakes culture of accountability. Therefore, this in-depth case study examined the impact of culturally relevant pedagogy on African American students within a high-stakes culture. Specifically, a program evaluation protocol was used to investigate the Sowing S.E.E.D.S program. The research design was grounded in a three-stage process (i.e., interviews, observations, and formative/summative statistical data). The research found that a culturally relevant literacy curriculum does not necessarily improve standardized test scores; however, it does provide students with a fundamental foundation for core literacy development. Culturally relevant pedagogy in the context of teaching literacy to African American students provided an authentic learning experience for students. This included students evaluating text through their own lens, synthesizing culturally relevant text that invited student discourse, and critical thinking exercises that addressed high-stakes standards. The study also found that the teaching and learning process was being undermined through the pursuit of achieving high test scores. The conclusion of this study explores whether the culture of high-stakes accountability may create a learning climate that is pernicious for African American students in urban learning communities.
Keywords/Search Tags:Accountability, Culture, Culturally, African american students, Pedagogy, High-stakes
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