Giving Compass' Take:

• Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) recently developed more culturally responsive curricula through strategies such as teacher training and hosting community-led events. 

• The changes to the BCPS curricula helped students connect school materials to the history of their community and their identities. Are schools in your district aiming for cultural relevance in the classroom? 

• Read more about NYC's plan to adopt a culturally responsive curriculum. 

With its announcement earlier this month that it will adopt a culturally responsive curriculum, after a unanimous vote by the city's Panel for Educational Policy, the New York City Department of Education joins a number of other districts that have also overhauled longstanding Eurocentric curricula in recent years.

The change follows the release of a report by the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice in February that noted a “lack of representation, diversity and inclusivity” in the district's teaching materials.

The district will now undertake a process of reviewing existing material, curriculum selection and teacher training to put in place more culturally inclusive content — not unlike what other districts have completed in recent years.

Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS), one of the districts already moving in this direction, began its own curriculum review after noticing waning results in student achievement following an initial audit in 2015.

“We weren’t seeing any huge growth across the district,” said Janise Lane, the executive director for teaching and learning in the district. “We just kept revising, and what we noticed was that our results were really stagnant.”

The district eventually relaunched its search for a better curriculum last year, after an audit conducted in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University.

Two strategies were critical to the success of this process, she said:

  • training a team for over a month prior to its review of curriculum materials, teacher survey data and audit results.
  • holding 11 separate community events with parents and teachers to make the eventual transition a community effort rather than a central office decision.

The new curriculum’s goal includes, in part, connecting classroom materials to the history and reality of Baltimore while addressing students' own personal identities.

Read the full article about culturally responsive curricula by Naaz Modan at Education Dive.