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Center for Instructional Support

Building a Culturally Responsive and Diverse Workforce

When educators at all levels in MA (including in schools, districts, preparation providers, and DESE) engage in strategic recruitment, development, hiring, and retention of individuals of color and create culturally responsive environments, then more racially and ethnically diverse individuals will enter and remain in the educator workforce. As a result, teacher and student experiences, as well as student outcomes, will improve.

  • Cultural Responsiveness is an approach to viewing culture and identity as assets, including students' race, ethnicity, or linguistic assets, among other characteristics. Zaretta Hammond, a leading scholar on cultural responsiveness, explains it this way: "Cultural responsiveness is a way to use culture to build trust and relationships with students as well as develop the cognitive scaffolding that builds on the broader knowledge students already have so that they can become competent, independent learners."

  • Diversity, in the context of this initiative, refers to racial and ethnic backgrounds of individuals. While the term 'diversity' can encompass a variety of identity markers (e.g. gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability status, income status, nationality/citizenship), in Massachusetts a significant and persistent academic achievement gap exists between white students and students of color (specifically Latinx and African American students), and a representation gap exists between educators of color and students of color (specifically between Latinx, African American, and Asian educators and students). Therefore, while The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) values all types of diversity, in this context diversity refers to race and ethnicity. While Latinx and Hispanic can be considered cultural or linguistic categories rather than racial ones, for the purpose of this strategic plan, Latinx is used as a racial category. Unless otherwise stated, the terms "people of color" or "students of color" refers to Latinx, African American, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or multiracial individuals.


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Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Schools and Classrooms Definition

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Culturally Responsive Reusable Learning Object (RLO)

Workforce Diversity Quick Reference Guides — coming soon

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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