MSI Fellowship Week: Developing Culturally Responsive Evaluation in Urban Education Leaders by Omari Jackson

My name is Omari Jackson, Ph.D.  I am an Assistant Professor of Urban Educational Leadership at Morgan State University and a member of the 2019 cohort of the Minority Serving Institutions initiative of the American Evaluation Association.

Lesson Learned:

Culturally responsive leadership is commonly discussed as a necessity in K-12 schools serving black and brown students.  However, discussions of such leadership and evaluation are seldom merged.  To be a culturally responsive leader, one must evaluate students, situations and phenomena in culturally responsive fashions based on standards that consider their unique experiences or cultural context.  Such consideration provides support for all students, families, and communities but especially for minoritized students.          

Parental involvement, discipline, and academic achievement are salient topics in K-12 literature.  For instance, research shows parental involvement is an important correlate of student success.  However, school leaders, and researchers, must consider families’ cultural contexts and broaden the definition of parental involvement to fit the families of the students.  Traditional expectations for parental involvement seldom allow for the demands of single parent families.  Secondly, inner-city schools frequently implement discipline practices which fail to appreciate culture and demography.  For example, school mandated uniforms often have dress requirements which reinforce traditional gender expectations.  In contrast at a local school recently, when a girl decided to challenge these expectations rather than being punished, she was applauded and recognized for her social justice efforts.   Empowering students to challenge power structures speaks to the quality of education offered by leaders.  Finally, much research reports low levels of academic achievement among black and brown students failing to consider the role of culturally irrelevant instruction and instead “blaming” the students.  It is challenging for anyone to develop a passion for abstract material or material inconsistent with one’s lived experience.  A culturally responsive leader will recognize and harness culturally appropriate parental involvement and support the design of curriculum which benefits from students’ interests and backgrounds. 

I hope this blog stimulates reflection on the academic curriculum in undergraduate and graduate education programs.  I believe leadership program faculty must encourage students to critique traditional notions of black and brown students’ behaviors and experiences.  Faculty must also train students to be leaders who consistently and critically examine their evaluative practice, recognizing black and brown leaders are not immune to evaluating behavior and experience from a traditional, majority dominant perspective.  Ultimately, we must engage in and disseminate scholarship which demonstrates a commitment to and informs culturally responsive and equitable leadership.  Such scholarship must also call for evaluation, reflective practices, and critical practices that encourage and support students to be leaders who are culturally responsive evaluators. 

The American Evaluation Association is AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship Experience week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s MSI Fellows. For more information on the MSI fellowship, see this webpage: you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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