Today, I celebrate the release of a new book called Culturally and Socially Responsible Assessement: Theory, Research, and Practice, by Catherine S. Taylor (with Susan Bobbitt Nolen). It is part of the Multicultural Education Series, with James A. Banks as editor, and it is published by Teachers College Press. This is not a book review because I just got my copy, but I’d like to share why I am happy about this book.

Educators who value culturally responsive educational pedagogy have a lot of new books to select from these days. I recently read Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain, by Zaretta Hammond, and it is an excellent tool for teachers like me who want to support all learners in the classroom, embrace antiracisim, and add to their toolboxes a set of new srategies that they can implement immediately.  Another popular book I recommend is Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy, by Gholdy Muhammad. Have you heard of Science in the City: Culturally Relevant STEM Education, by Bryan A. Brown?

While assessment is a topic found in most books aimed at educators, none take the approach of Taylor’s book. From the Series Forward (p. ix), we read that this book describes and illustrates ways “in which teacher-made and standardized tests and assessments contribute to racial, gender, and social class stratification and inequality.” Honestly, I have been learning a lot lately about how to reform my classroom practices but assessment was not on my rader. I had not considered–at least not in depth–how current assessment practices contribute “to the marginalization of students from diverse groups” because standardized tests focus on “White middle-class culture and exclude other cultures” and include teachers’ implicit biases (p. ix). As an aside, read Hammond’s book to learn how to uncover your implicit biases.

I am happy about this book because what I’ve read so far, which isn’t much, has lit a fire in me. I know it will help tie together my recently acquired knowledge about culturally responsive teaching with assessment. Consider that to be an effective teacher, we must begin by stating clear learning goals, provide students learning experiences, and then assess to determine student learning and guide reteaching. Assessment isn’t just “punctuation marks along a trajectory of lessons, units, and grading periods to generate points for a grade book,” as Taylor says on page 5 of her book. It’s so much more. We need to take the time as educators to really understand assessment and to make sure it is fair, equitable, and culturally and socially just.

As I said, I am just beginning this book today. I will share a book review when I’ve finished reading it. I am running a book club for this book, and the pacing puts that last chapter sometime in April. Stay tuned!

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