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CLRT Institute Topic 1.4 - CLRT Descriptions

Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching (CLRT) Institute CLRT Descriptions.

Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching

Culturally and linguistically responsive teaching seeks to address and redress the inequities and injustices in school systems that harm culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students, especially those who are ethnically diverse and people of color. It teaches to and through the strengths of CLD students and is therefore validating and affirming.

  • It recognizes and uses in daily classroom practice the cultural and linguistic knowledge; home and community experiences; frames of reference and world views; and learning styles of CLD students to make learning more relevant to and effective for them.
  • It integrates the history and culture of students into the curriculum in all disciplines, providing accurate and positive depictions and counternarratives to damaging and pervasive negative stereotypes.
  • It promotes CLD students’ healthy perceptions of their cultural and linguistic identity along with a sense of inclusion and belonging in school.
  • It supports students to sustain their cultural and linguistic identity while they simultaneously develop advanced academic proficiency and critical awareness of the codes of power in school and beyond.
  • It focuses on issues of social justice for all marginalized and oppressed people. It empowers students by supporting their development of personal efficacy and cultural pride.

Some tangible culturally and linguistically responsive teaching practices include (but are far from limited to) using an ethnic studies curriculum; using culturally relevant literature and informational texts; using students’ cultural backgrounds as the basis for selecting academic topics of study; emphasizing social justice topics; promoting multilingualism; and inviting students to use their primary language in learning tasks.

Cultivating democratic classrooms is a major goal of culturally and linguistically responsive teaching. Democratic classrooms are inclusive spaces—often supported by norms to guide respectful interaction and protocols for supporting such interaction—that exude respect for diversity where all students are responsible for supporting one another.


  • California English Language Arts/English Language Development Framework (2014)
  • California Practitioners’ Guide for Educating English Learners with Disabilities (2019)
  • California Science Framework (2016)
  • California Health Education Framework (2019)
  • California History–Social Science Framework (2016)
  • California English Learner Roadmap Policy (2017)

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

Culturally relevant pedagogy is defined in three components: (1) academic success (the intellectual growth that students experience as a result of classroom instruction and learning experiences); (2) cultural competence (the ability to help students appreciate and celebrate their cultures of origin while gaining knowledge of and fluency in at least one other culture); and (3) sociopolitical consciousness (the ability to take learning beyond the confines of the classroom using school knowledge and skills to identify, analyze, and solve real-world problems).


Ladson-Billings, G. 2014. “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy 2.0: a.k.a. The Remix.” Harvard Educational Review 84: 74–84.

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Culturally responsive teaching is defined as using the cultural characteristics, experiences, and perspectives of ethnically diverse students as conduits for teaching them more effectively. It is based on the assumption that when academic knowledge and skills are situated within the lived experiences and frames of reference of students, they are more personally meaningful, have higher interest appeal, and are learned more easily and thoroughly.


Gay, G. 2002. “Preparing for Culturally Responsive Teaching.” Journal of Teacher Education 53 (2): 106–116.

Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy

Culturally sustaining pedagogy is teaching and learning that seeks to perpetuate and foster linguistic, literate, and cultural pluralism as part of the democratic project of schooling and as a necessary response to demographic and social change. In the face of current policies and practices that have the explicit goal of creating a monocultural and monolingual society, research and practice need equally explicit resistances that embrace cultural pluralism and cultural equality.


Paris, D. 2012. “Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy: A Needed Change in Stance, Terminology, and Practice.” Educational Researcher 41 (3): 93–97.

Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy

Culturally and historically responsive literacy is a four-part equity framework for literacy instruction that includes (1) identity development, (2) skill development, (3) intellectual development, and (4) criticality. The framework is not just for literacy educators but for all teachers across disciplines, as it is designed to bring diverse texts and literacies into all content areas in K–12 classrooms.


Muhammad, G. 2020. Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy. New York: Scholastic.

Culturally Responsive–Sustaining Education

Culturally responsive–sustaining (CR–S) education is grounded in a cultural view of learning and human development in which multiple expressions of diversity (e.g., race, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, ability) are recognized and regarded as assets for teaching and learning.


New York State Education Department External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Culturally Relevant and Sustaining Education

Culturally relevant and sustaining education (CR–SE) ensures equity for all students and seeks to eliminate systemic, institutional racial and cultural barriers that inhibit the success of all students in this commonwealth—particularly those who have been historically underrepresented. CR-SE encompasses skills for educators including, but not limited to, approaches to mental wellness; trauma-informed approaches to instruction; technological and virtual engagement; cultural awareness; and emerging factors that inhibit equitable access for all students in this commonwealth.

Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Practices

Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Practices (CLSP) draw upon, infuse, and evoke students’ existing schema, experiences, funds of knowledge, and perspectives to optimally facilitate learning. CLSP also intentionally seek racial and cultural equity and pluralism in order to deliberately tailor district-wide norms, policies, and practices to affirm the identities of and expand opportunities for historically marginalized students. CLSP heavily rely upon the scholarship and research of its preceding models, namely culturally relevant, culturally responsive, and culturally sustaining pedagogies (Gay 2010; Ladson-Billings 1995; Paris 2012). —Dr. Colin Rose & Hayden Frederick-Clarke


Boston Public Schools External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Additional Resources

Warner, Saroja, and Andrea Browning. 2021. What Are Social and Emotional Learning and Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education—and What Do They Have to Do with Critical Race Theory? A primer. External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) San Francisco: WestEd. As of October 5, 2021.

New York City Culturally Responsive Education Working Group and the Education Justice Research and Organizing Collaborative. 2020. Transforming Our Public Schools: A Guide to Culturally Responsive–Sustaining Education. External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)

Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education External link opens in new window or tab. (New York University (NYU) Steinhardt, The Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools).

Culturally Responsive Education: A Primer for Policy and Practice External link opens in new window or tab. (NYU Steinhardt, Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools).

Colorado Department of Education. 2021. Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education External link opens in new window or tab.

Grant, Jordan. 2021. “Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Do It.” External link opens in new window or tab.

Ferlazzo, Larry. 2017. “Author Interview: ‘Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies.’” External link opens in new window or tab.

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Last Reviewed: Tuesday, March 7, 2023
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