Posted: Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:08am Updated: Wed, 10/21/2020 - 1:24pm


Culturally Responsive Teaching is a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning. (Ladson-Billings, 1994.) Cultural competence is a key factor in enabling educators to be effective with students from cultures other than their own. Cultural competence is having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views and having the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families. It is the ability to understand the differences that make each student unique while celebrating the variations that make our country a tapestry. This understanding informs and expands teaching practices as educators work towards having culturally competent learning environments. The goal is to eliminate academic gaps between cultural groups.

IDOE Letter Head

Dear Indiana Stakeholders,

Across the state and the country an achievement gap exists in our most vulnerable student groups. Indiana is no exception to the existence of this gap. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) prioritizes the inclusion and support for all students. Indiana’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan reflects the importance and level of priority this gap holds under my administration. The current data regarding proficiency for students of color and students in poverty illustrates a significant gap and need for immediate measures to address this gap.

Indiana’s achievement gap goes beyond low academic achievement and is evident in disproportionate numbers of suspensions and expulsions, access to rigorous courses, and equity in resources across the state.

Implicit bias regarding students of color is driving the disparity between this group and their counterparts throughout school systems nation-wide. IDOE is committed to providing Indiana educators with up-to-date, researched-based resources and training in the area of cultural competency and equipping educators with skills to better engage students of color and their families. IDOE’s Cultural Competency Resource page serves as a hub for educators to become versed in research and practices to meet the varied needs of our student groups. This website is a curation of the most relevant and appropriate resources. Additionally, IDOE offers educators ongoing professional development in culturally responsive teaching through both live and virtual options. A conference titled, Overcoming the Achievement Gap Trap with leading expert Anthony Muhammed, has been scheduled for Fall 2020.

An additional cultural competency-related effort underway includes the use of Brown University’s Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching included in IDOE’s templates for schools to complete for the annual Comprehensive Needs Assessment and School Improvement Plan. These plans are required from Indiana schools that have shown gaps in student achievement.

Educationally yours,

Dr. McCormick Signature

Dr. Jennifer McCormick
Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction


  • IC 20-28-3-3.5 - Incorporation of methods to establish culturally responsive school climates.
  • IC 20-31-6-1 - Requires Cultural Competency Materials (pp. 1 of 1)
  • IC 20-31-6-2 - Lists the Cultural Competency Components of a School Plan (pp. 1 of 1)

Evidence-Based Best Practices


HEA 1419 (2009) Resources

Professional Development


Various professional development opportunities are available throughout the state. Click on the links below to find information about these opportunities and about your regional IDOE – School Improvement contact(s).

Talking about Race in the Classroom (LEA)

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Talking about Race in the Classroom (LEA)