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The Coalition for Educational Justice Analyzes Curriculum for Cultural Responsiveness

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    EL Education

The Coalition for Educational Justice recently released a report evaluating the culturally responsiveness of curricula used in New York City public schools.

EL Education shares the belief that a culturally responsive curriculum is essential to children’s literacy education. We welcome engagement around important questions like the ones raised by the Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) and are grateful to the CEJ for creating tools that bring the opportunity for greater cultural responsiveness to the forefront. We are committed to honoring our students and their diverse perspectives and recognize we have room to continue to grow. 

EL Education is currently planning revisions to the EL Education K-5 Language Arts curriculum (the Second Edition of the curriculum evaluated by the CEJ) to include more culturally relevant and responsive texts and instructional practices. EL Education recently revised the 6-8 curriculum.  It now includes more culturally relevant, responsive topics and texts, and is available for adoption for the 2020-2021 school year.

Cultural responsiveness is one of several ways that we are evaluating our curriculum for diversity, equity, and inclusion as we work to close literacy opportunity gaps and improve equitable outcomes for all students. We chose topics and texts that encourage students to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use as active citizens, working for social justice, environmental stewardship, and healthy, equitable communities.

As a PD provider, we are working with teachers in New York City to consider how the text topics connect to the students’ community and identifying ways to leverage local experts and venues to connect module learning to the community. In our work with teachers, we’ve also been emphasizing identifying students’ strengths and keeping students at the center of planning.

Additionally, EL Education has hired a full-time Director of Diversity and Organizational Effectiveness and is training its staff on topics such as social identity, emotional intelligence, implicit bias, microaggressions, allyship, power and privilege, and crucial conversations. 

In working with schools and districts across the country to implement the curriculum, including those with similar demographics to New York City, we have seen significant gains in student achievement and improvements in teacher practice. As one recent example, a rigorous, five-year study by Mathematica Policy Research demonstrated that EL Education’s curriculum and professional development results in increased student literacy achievement. The study included 12,000 students, 71% of whom were economically disadvantaged.