Immigration has dramatically increased in recent years; meeting and satisfying the demands of a diverse multicultural classroom is taxing educators at all levels of the Irish educational spectrum as well as across Europe and internationally. The theory of culturally responsive assessment suggests that ethnic minorities may suffer discrimination through the modes of assessment of learning. The effects can be particularly significant when the assessment tests knowledge, competence and ability at a point of transition which determines future life path or a rite of passage. Instead of a “one-fits-all” mentality ACRAS wants to develop methods of culturally responsive assessment which allow for differentiation and the contextualisation of learning in a culturally appropriate manner.
Strategies which have previously been proposed for creating culturally responsive assessment include using locally validated formative assessments (Tichá & Abery, 2016), the addition of creativity assessments (see Kim & Zabelina, 2015) or utilising multiple methods of assessment to provide additional opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008; Qualls, 1998). Yet no study, domestically or internationally, looks at the various strategies teachers use to integrate cultural responsivity into their student assessments and compare the relative merit of these strategies. As such, using a collaborative approach including a number of European HEIs, ACRAS will endeavour to develop a conceptual framework of best practice in educational assessment for minority and migrant students as well as supportive strategies (presented as a toolkit) to incorporate culturally responsive assessment in educators’ practice.
The first phase will include an initial exploratory survey in post-primary schools (n≈120/country) to explore methods of assessment and any accommodations/differentiation used by educators for assessing migrant students. This initial survey will target the teachers and/or headteachers of these schools (n=480). Following the survey, approximately 12 schools per country will be chosen to participate in a case study.
The case study will seek to elicit the experiences of all stakeholders (e.g. Principals, Class teachers, Students, Parents) using a multi-method approach (e.g. interviews, assessment biography). The case studies will aim to involve 4,224 participants across the four countries. Based on the findings from the surveys and case studies, common strategies and pitfalls of assessment will be identified and collated into a conceptual framework of best practice in culturally responsive assessment.