Module 7: Culturally Relevant Teaching

Module 7 Video

The Uses and Characteristics of an Anchor Case for LSDL Modules

An anchor case is typically used as a context for a set of interrelated learning activities, some or all of which may be modules. It facilitates curricular coherence and allows different lessons to draw on the same data and resources. This, in turn, can help students see interrelationships among the topics addressed in the modules.

Because the LSDL modules are intended for use by instructors who may want to use only one module or to situate the module in a particular environment, an anchor case must be optional and the use of one module cannot be dependent on the use of others or the anchor case. An instructor—or a program—may want to use the anchor case to link lessons or courses but use only some of the modules. For example, the instructor or program may use the  data monitoring module in a course on data-based decision making and then use the same data again in a course on culturally responsive teaching or family and community engagement.  In this example, the anchor case allows the instructor to cover a range of topics using the same data.  The anchor case should not include new information or information that is not relevant to the learning goals of the modules.Over time, as modules are added, the anchor case can be modified to accommodate the new content, if needed.

The anchor case assumes that each module has a “core” PLE that can be delivered in 2-4 weeks, thatinstructors are able to use additional PLEs that take the students “deeper” or “broader” in module topics, and thatteaching notes provide information for instructors on how to go into more depth on module topics as well as how to connect to other related PLEs. In the example anchor case below, there are some annotations in italics that are meant to suggest how the case can be used.

The anchor case is presented to participants in the form of a real-life problem that school leaders may face.

Anchor Case

You have just been appointed as principal of Catonsville School. Your teachers are relatively experienced and are teaching subjects in which they are certified. The school has a history of above-average student performance. However, student test scores have been declining in recent years while at the same time, the proportions of African American, Latino and Asian students have increased. To examine the school’s demographic characteristics and student outcomes for the school, Click Here. [Instructors provide data.]

The data should include student demographics such as race and ethnicity, free and reduced priced meals, percent English language learners and students in specific categories of disabilities. The data should be cross tabulated with student performance data and other student outcome data. Three years of data should be provided.

You meet with the School Leadership Team. They tell you that while teachers are concerned about the declining test scores, they have considerable confidence in their own expertise. You are advised that some teachers say that they have taught in ways that have always been successful but are frustrated by the fact that many of their students are not currently doing well on assessment tests and that their evaluation scores are linked to student performance. After learning more about the school and after analyzing student outcome data (including student test scores and attendance and retention rates) for the last few years, you decide that it is important to engage the Team, perhaps the whole faculty, in an analysis of student outcomes.

Instructors will be advised that the data monitoring case could fit here, if they wish to use it.  Data analysis should include nuanced disaggregating of data by student race, ethnicity, English language proficiency, national origins, disability, gender, race by English language proficiency, race by national origins, race by disability, race by gender, etc.

After analyzing student outcome data and comparing current student performance with annual yearly progress benchmarks for student achievement, the leadership team agrees that there are significant differences in outcomes among students of diverse racial, ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds unrelated to socioeconomic status???. The analysis has highlighted that there are differences in student outcomes within racial and ethnic groups with that appear to be related to students’ national origins, English language proficiency and disabilities. The achievement of English language learners is particularly troublesome.  You ask the Leadership Team to come to the next team meeting with their perspectives about the causes of the achievement gaps the data analysis has identified.

Instructors may want to engage students in an “initial thoughts exercise” at this point identifying their beliefs about reasons for these achievement gaps. This could help in acknowledging the scope of the issues involved in narrowing the achievement gaps and clarifying which issues schools can address directly.

At the next meeting, the Leadership Team identified numerous explanations for differences in outcomes among students of diverse racial, ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Following extensive discussion, the Leadership Team proposed the following priorities that need to be addressed: family engagement, the lack of fluency in English for a substantial proportion/number of students, and the low test scores of students with disabilities. While the Team discussed a number of potential interventions for certain students, they did not discuss that teacher quality might need to be improved.  You  point out the possible need for improved teaching, and Team members are reluctant to agree with you.  . The Team arguedthat focusing on the improvement of teaching without looking at school conditions that support teaching and learning is unfair and will miss critical influences on differences in student outcomes. You readily agreed.

When you look at the problems the Leadership Team identified and the related discussion, you realize that there is apparently no recognition that the racial and ethnic dispositions of the school staff might be related to differences in student performance.

You decide that you had better address this reality but you know that this approach may be unproductive with some teachers who are unwilling to engage in critical conversations concerning race. You do some background reading and learn that race-related dispositions of teachers may be related to student performance.  You also learn more about the difficulties of engaging others in discussing race-related dispositions. You learn that leaders who successfully engage others in discussions of race should first understand their own beliefs and also that some beliefs about race may be subconscious.

 Instructors could use the module on leaders’ racial dispositions here.

To address the priorities that the Leadership Team agreed upon, you create staff study groups to develop a better understanding of the issues that need to be addressed and to investigate potential actions to improve student performance. After their first meeting or so, each of the study groups reports back briefly describing what they propose to examine. The Leadership Team, with your support, endorses the agenda of each of the staff study groups.

At this point, the class can take on the role of a study group as it seeks to learn more about the topic and strategies for school improvement. The work of each study group should be described in a couple of sentences and refer to relevant modules. Each instructor can decide the scope and depth of topics covered.

One example for a staff study group is to examine culturally responsive pedagogy.   The description for the staff study group could read:

“The study group working on improved teaching decides that identifying best practices for teaching students of diverse racial, ethnic, linguistic and cultural backgrounds should be its priority. Thus, it will be studying culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP), how best to learn how to employ such strategies, how to assess the extent to which the school now uses CRP, and what the obstacles might be to implementing CRP throughout the school. Other module topics may also be presented as staff study group objectives.