How is Cultural Diversity Positioned in Teacher Professional Standards? An International Analysis

From Section:
Trends in Teacher Education
Australia,, Canada,, England,, New Zealand,, USA
May. 01, 2016
May, 2016

Source: Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 44, No. 3, 208–223, 2016.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This paper presents an analysis of teacher professional standards from five of the most culturally diverse nations in the English-speaking world. The authors examine how culturally and linguistically diverse learners and culturally responsive pedagogy are positioned, and what the standards stipulate teachers should know, and be able to do, in fulfilling their professional obligations.

The authors have chosen to examine each of the particular sets of standards in five nations: Australia, Canada – British Columbia, US – California, England, and New Zealand.
The authors analyzed used official national or state documents.

The findings reveal that a discourse of inclusivity characterises the standards. All the professional standards include terms such as “all learners,” “all students” or “diverse learners”, rather than the naming and identification of specific ethnic or racial groups of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) students. The authors have also noted that others limit their acknowledgement of CALD students to “English-language learners” or “English as an additional/second-language learners,” thereby conflating CALD students with those whose lack of English-language competence positions them as needing particular pedagogical interventions.
The results also reveal silences in regard to the naming of particular groups of CALD students, the professional standards for national and state contexts that have Aboriginal populations such as New Zealand Aotearoa, Australia and British Columbia made specific mention of those groups. However, the authors argue that CALD students are also students who are first- and second-generation immigrants or students whose ethnic or racial identity positions them outside the dominant cultural group such as BME students.
In addition, the analysis revealed significant silences and omissions in regards to teachers’ own ethnic and racial positioning and the need to know how this shapes their practice. The authors argue that knowing the “ethnic self” and “cultural self” is inextricably connected to understanding the cultural and ethnic “other” and is crucial to developing culturally responsive pedagogies and effective classroom practice.

Furthermore, the analysis has revealed omissions in regards to knowledge about specific strategies for culturally responsive teaching. The authors argue that no standards documents mention the need for teachers to have knowledge of particular and specific strategies.

Based on this analysis, the authors conclude that the teacher professional standards do not acknowledge, let alone make explicit, the complex and specific knowledge and skills needed for culturally responsive teaching. The authors argue that although the analysis was restricted to a relatively small sample of standards documents, they chose documents from some of the most culturally diverse nations/states in the world. Hence, they expect that such nations/states might be more advanced in their approaches to supporting the development of culturally responsive teachers than others might be.
However, the authors recognise that different standards are written in different ways by different groups of professionals and are intended for slightly different purposes.
The authors suggest that CALD learners should be positioned much more prominently in teacher standards and the complex knowledge about learners and about practice for CALD learners that is required by culturally responsive teachers should feature in standards documents.

The authors also argue that it is important for teacher educators to recognise the gaps and omissions in teacher professional standards, how they position CALD students and pedagogies for CALD classrooms. 

Updated: Oct. 12, 2021
Standards | Discourse analysis | Culturally responsive teaching