Author Archives: MarthaAttridgeBufton

Module 4: Martha Attridge Bufton

Having found online sources of information related to culturally responsive pedagogy last week, I returned to searching for materials related to culturally responsive assessment. I did go back to Google UK and Google Australia, as I am interested in what is happening in these jurisdictions, particularly Australia, where educators can be more advanced in their approaches to Indigenous learners than their Canadian (if not North American) counterparts. The sources I found complement those on which I have already blogged and the academic sources I identified in my reference list for the draft of my project. I was surprised, but pleased to discover the term “culture fair assessment.” Whether this terminology brings more clarity and direction to my project remains to be seen, but as I tell the students I support in the library, “It’s all about the synonyms” when searching holistically on a topic. Finally, I returned to Canada and looked for resources from Nunavut and a single First Nations community (Kahnewake).


Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA)
Queensland is one of the northern Australian states. As detailed on the QCAA site, the authority oversees syllabus development at the primary and secondary levels and implements quality assurance for assessing learning at “the senior phase of learning.” The site provides access to policy documents as well as publications related to its mandate such as newsletters, memos, fact sheets and reports. In particular, I identified academic journal articles by Klenowski on multi-cultural assessment and culture fair assessment that could prove useful and I have access to documents such as a policy document on school-based assessment in Queensland.

United Kingdom

The Forum: Qualitative Social Research is an open access peer reviewed journal that indexes literature that could be relative to my project. For example, Current practices in multicultural practices by school psychologists could be a good scholarly source for my literature review. Up to now I have focused on organizational sites that might provide case studies, approaches or strategies for culturally relevant assessment rather than simply curating academic material from the web (as a librarian, I am programmed to “go to the databases). However, as more open source/access journals are published, this seems to be an appropriate strategy at this stage in my project.

Department for Education and Skills, UK

The Department for Education and Skills was replaced by the Department of Education, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and Department for Children, Schools and Families. However, my online search of Google UK resulted in a link to and older research review entitled Diversity and Citizenship in the classroom, which could be useful even as an historical overview. It’s fascinating to discover the reorganization of these departments, which much all have mandates elated to education in some form or another. The UK Department of Education I will return to do for policy documents, for example one on approaches to teaching students with “English as an additional language” national curriculum and assessment.


Nunavut: Department of Education
Having read Heather’s article on the approach to education adopted in Nunavut, I searched for sites and materials related to assessment in the Inuit homeland. The Department of Education has a useful website, that provides resources for parents, students and educators including links to documents on Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. This will be an important site to explore, given that the Inuit have had greater control over curricula development (and presumably assessment) than First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples living in other jurisdictions.

Kanehsatà:ke Education Center

Finally, I thought I should explore what specific communities are doing in terms of developing and assessing educational program—either those that they develop for their own people and/or materials related to mainstream, public education. The Kanehsatà:ke Education Center seems to offer programming and resources for teachers, which I will review in terms of assessment of education in a variety of contexts.




Module 3: Martha Attridge Bufton

Culturally responsive education
Our readings on culturally responsive education (CRE) this week prompted me to take a step back and ask, “What is culturally responsive education?” After all, assessments are only one component of a broader teaching and learning program and must be compatible with the philosophies and approaches of the curricula in which they are embedded. So I did an online search for sites and materials that discuss and (hopefully) define culturally responsive education. Initially my search was broad (culturally responsive education) and then I added keywords such as Canada, Council of Ontario Universities and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT). I also searched Google UK and Google Australia—to see the results differed significantly. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the top results continued to be from the United States, leading me to wonder about differences in vocabulary.

When I tried “multicultur* education” in Google UK, the results seemed to be more relevant. I have included four Canadian and one American resource in this blog and may include those from the UK and Australia in my fourth blog posting.

Assembly of First Nations: Literature review (2012).
This recent literature review of culturally responsive education provides an overview of scholarly publications from the 1970s to the late 2000s. The literature appears to be primarily Canadian and American in content and covers a broad spectrum including both peer reviewed and grey literature. I am particularly interested in case studies related to CRE in Canada and several of the articles are relevant, such as those by Agbo (2001 and 2004) on Akwasasne, a First Nations and American Indian community located near Ottawa.

Council of Ontario Universities. (2017). Aboriginal learners.
As stated on the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) website, members consist of the 20 publicly funded universities in Ontario along with the Royal Military College of Canada. The council mandate is to promote undergraduate and graduate education and research and members work together collaborate on and promote a range of university issues with government and other stakeholders. This page from the COU website is dedicated to information related to First Nations, Metis and Inuit learners and contains a number of documents and resources that could be relevant for my project—at least in terms of defining and identifying CRE including Deepening our relationship: An overview of Indigenization-related activities on our campuses, published in February 2017.

Manitoba Education and Youth. (2003). Integrating Aboriginal perspectives into curricula. A resource for curriculum developers, teachers and administrators.
This document surfaced in my search, although I have yet to determine if it is still current, i.e., if other policy documents have superseded the information in this resource guide. However, the content may be relevant to my project in that not only is there a clear definition of culturally relevant education in the context of Aboriginal peoples in Manitoba, the document also contains a set of learning outcomes, which are interesting to consider as a framework for assessment.

McGill University. (2017). Teaching for learning blog@McGill University
Taking audiences’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds into consideration when communicating at McGill.
This recent post on the McGill University teaching and learning blog site addresses educators’ concerns when making formal presentations—concerns that could apply to a range of university staff working with and delivering content to students. The main reference is a recent article published in the journal Medical Teacher (which I have ordered through interlibrary library loans here at Carleton). While the focus of the blog post is language, the original article might be relevant in terms of developing CRE in a variety of educational contexts.

United States
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). (2017).
According to the ASCD website, the organization is “ASCD is a global community of educators dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading. Our innovative solutions empower educators to promote the success of each child.” Based in Alexandria, Virginia, the ASCD website contains a number of resources including several hundred related to CRE. Although American in focus, there may be some resources, including the full text of some scholarly articles, such as A framework for culturally responsive teaching (1995) which again may provide some useful background for the section of my project on CRE.

Module 2: Martha Attridge Bufton

Learning assessment policies and procedures: Canada
For Module One, I focused on online sources that would introduce me to the area of culturally responsive assessment and the approaches being used in different but relevant educational jurisdictions. For Module Two, I decided to identify some resources related to policies and procedures that are currently be in place in Canada. I also looked for similar resources in other jurisdictions (e.g., Australia). Finally, one of our classmates mentioned Universal Design for Learning in a post this week (Week 5) and, in following this thread began to reflect upon the use of this framework for developing culturally responsive assessment, so I have included the CAST (Centre for Applied Special Technology).

Aboriginal education in British Columbia
This website includes a brief general statement on broad goals of Aboriginal education in BC. There are also links to resources for educators and administrators that have been developed by a number of school districts. There are links to various curricular documents as well as materials on reconciliation, anti-racism and other related research. The document Aboriginal worldviews and perspectives has a number of references to assessment including student self-assessment and student-generated criteria for assessment. A closer reading is needed to determine if such approaches are standard across curricula or specific to working with Aboriginal students.

Aboriginal education (Manitoba)
This site links to a number of curricula documents that could prove useful. While there is no prominent section related specifically to assessment, some of these documents do refer to assessment practices. In particular, the Grade 12 Current topics in First Nations, Metis and Inuit studies guide has a number of references to assessment including holistic teaching and assessment. This discussion and definition could enhance my understanding of how assessment is done in different educational systems.

CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology)
The researchers at CAST are the pioneers of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). I am new to UDL but as per the statement on the CAST website:

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based set of principles to guide the design of learning environments that are accessible and effective for all … UDL informs all of our work in educational research and development, capacity building, and professional learning.

The site provides links to many resources (including publications) as well as the National Centre for Universal Design for Learning, which in turn provides links to training tools (e.g., videos on UDL), research and resources. After taking an initial “tour,” I did a search in the Carleton University Library catalogue for books by David Rose, the CAST founder, and Amazon. I found several books related to UDL and diversity that I think will help me understand if this framework can be used to develop appropriate assessment tools for Aboriginal students. My main question at this point is, “Is there such as thing as a culturally University Design for Learning?”

Federation University Australia Assessing Indigenous learners
Federation University Australia is located in Victoria, Australia. This particular web page contains the institutional policy for assessing Aboriginal and Torres Strait learners. This policy includes as number of interesting and significant features such as using “appropriately qualified Indigenous assessors” and providing feedback “sensitively.” This approach will be interesting as a model/benchmark for comparison with other models. In addition, as the policy has been developed to assess university students, it could be particularly relevant to developing assessment tools for the teaching I do with First Nations, Metis and Inuit undergraduates at Carleton.

Ontario Ministry of Education: Indigenous education strategy
This site outlines the policy framework for supporting First Nations, Metis and Inuit students in elementary and high schools the province of Ontario. The textual information is brief and the page seems to have been last updated in 2009. However, there are links to two documents including the full First Nation, Metis and Inuit Education Policy Framework. My preliminary reading of the framework indicates that assessment is integrated into the policy and that assessment is defined not just as meeting provincial standards but also reflecting Aboriginal cultural perspectives. As such, the framework is evidence that culturally responsive assessment is a priority (although I will have to do further research to determine whether assessment tools have been developed and are being used).

Module 1: Martha Attridge Bufton

Culturally responsive assessment
I am interested in thinking my way through the issue of culturally responsive (or appropriate) assessment of student learning. As scholars such as Hare (2011), Marker (2006), and Bowers, Vasquez, and Roaf, (2000) suggest, the tools we use in learning environments are culturally biased, i.e., we privilege certain tools and strategies that are congruent with a particular worldview. For example, quantitative assessment tools such as surveys are scientific and fit a Western, reasoned approach to education.

However, do quantitative approaches to assessing student learning fit with an Indigenous view of education that favours observation, listening and doing (Hare, 2011)? Where knowledge is transferred orally, through stories, from elders to young people? I hope to have at least some answers to these questions by the time I finish my research project (and maybe identify some tools to try).

To begin my research journey, I have looked for resources related to assessment of Indigenous student learning. I have already done some research on culturally responsive/inclusive pedagogy so I decided that I would wait to circle back to this broader topic. I am interested in Canadian materials as well as international resources, particularly those from Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia where I know that educational research and practice is evolving—sometimes faster than it is here in Canada. The following five resources seem like a good place to start.

Bowers, C.A., Vasquez, M., & Roaf, M. (2000). Native people and the challenge of computers: Reservation schools, individualism, and consumerism. American Indian Quarterly, 24(2), 182-199. Retrieved from

Hare, J. (2011). Learning from Indigenous knowledge in education. In D. Long & O. P. Dickason (Eds.), Visions of the heart. Canadian Aboriginal issues (3rd ed.). Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

Marker, M. (2006). After the Makah whale hunt. Indigenous knowledge and limits of multicultural discourse. Urban Education, 41(5), 482-505.


Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)
The mission of the ACER is to support the development of learning environments by providing “research-based knowledge, products and services” (2017). In the area of assessment, ACER researchers have created a number of assessment products which might not be accessible to me. However, They publish an Indigenous education update (the latest in 2016) as well as an article of related to assessment in higher education. Given that Australia has a similar colonial history to Canada, some of the materials available through the CREA might suggest approaches or tools that might be transferable to a Canadian context, or provide alternatives that might suggest new pathways to developing appropriate assessment strategies. The site does not seem to link to those of other organizations.

Canadian Education Association
The Canadian Education Association is a national organization of educators that supports pedagogical research and innovation that will lead to “deeply engaging learning environments (n.d.). The CEA has produced a number of publications related to integrating Indigenous knowledge and worldviews into learning environments such as Land-based learning: A case study report for educators tasked with integrating Indigenous Worldviews into classrooms (2017) and a 2014 article in the online magazine entitled The culturally responsive classroom. A proactive approach to diversity in Canadian schools. A search for assessment-related materials brings up a number of resources that may be useful to understanding general approaches to assessment in Canadian schools—finding Canadian content can sometimes be a challenge. However, the site does not seem to link to that of other organizations.

Centre for culturally responsive evaluation and assessment (CREA)
The CREA is located at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne. Researchers at the centre recognize the need to explore and develop forms of educational evaluation and assessment that respect and reflect the impact of culture on learning. The CREA published a reading list online where literature is categorized according to several themes:

  • Cultural competence in evaluation
  • Culturally responsive evaluator
  • Multiculturalism and cultural competence in evaluation

This area of research, emerged in part, out of the American scholarship on culturally responsive instruction. The work of scholars such as Gloria Ladson-Billings has been influential internationally in this area and I think the bibliography will be a good source of academic literature that will provide a foundation for an evidence-based approach to this topic.

National monitoring study of student achievement
Based on research that I have done on library schools in Aotearoa New Zealand, I have the impression that educators in that country may be more progressive in terms of practicing culturally responsive education. The national study is based out of the University of Ortago and assesses the performance of primary school students. One of the principles of the study is to recognize and take into account “identity, language and culture” and track the progress of Maori and Pasifika students. As such, publications and resources may provide some insight into the design and characteristics of forms of assessment that are considered culturally responsive/relevant, although a national program would not scale down to my work.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): Programme for International Student Assessment
As described on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) website, the PISA is a triennial international survey designed to “evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year old students.” Students from more than 70 countries took the test in 2015 and were tested for the following literacies:

  • Science
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Financial
  • Collaborative problem solving

This approach to assessing student performance is relevant in that it might represent a Western approach to understanding learning, i.e., a dominant paradigm. As such, it might serve as a baseline for culturally biased assessment and provide access to statistics from a wide range of jurisdictions.