Feb 22, 2022
Findings from the 2021 American Instructional Resources Surveys
In this webinar, RAND Corporation researchers share data from a national teacher survey administered in spring 2021 concerning the extent to which public school teachers report addressing anti-bias education in their K–12 classrooms. Discussants from organizations that support high-quality teaching and learning reflect on the findings and their implications for helping all students in public schools succeed.
Welcome everybody. We're so pleased to have you here. My name is Julia Kaufman. I'm a senior policy researcher at RAND, and I codirect the American Educator Panels, through which the American Instructional Resources Survey on which these results are based was fielded. I may be listed first as presenter, but I'm the least important of our panelists today. I'd like to first introduce you to Ashley Woo, who is the lead author on the report you'll hear about today. Ashley, do you just want to introduce yourself?
Yeah, sure. Hi, everyone. It's so nice to see you all here. I'm Ashley, and I'm a fourth-year Ph.D. student at RAND's graduate school. I'm focusing on education policy, and before I came to RAND, I was also a second- and third- grade teacher.
Thank you so much, Ashley. We're also so honored to have two awesome discussants here with us today who have so much rich practical experience in the field, in schools, supporting schools. They'll help us reflect on our findings and pick out critical themes that stood out to them.
First, we have Dr. Tanji Reed Marshall. Dr. Reed Marshall is the director of P–12 practice at the Education Trust. Prior to joining Ed Trust, she worked in the Office of Academic Programs at Virginia Tech. Before that, she supported prospective secondary English teachers at Virginia Tech in another capacity. And then before that, she worked as a district-level literacy specialist at Charlotte-Mecklenburg, where she supported middle schools across the district to refine their literacy practice. She also has taught elementary and middle school in North Carolina and New Jersey. She holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction.
Dr. Larry Paska is the executive director of the National Council for Social Studies. Dr. Paska began his career as a middle school social studies teacher in New York. He later served in multiple roles at the New York State Education Department, leading New York's standards and assessment program for P–12 social studies education. He returned to schools as the director of social studies for the Harrison Central School District, leading K–12 social studies, business, and library media departments, and most recently served as the director for professional development for the Southern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services, where he and his team provided educational programs and services for 32 public school districts in the Greater New York City Region. He also holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.
Now, I'm just going to go through what we're going to be talking about in today's presentation. So, the first thing I'll do is give you a quick overview of the American Educator Panels and the American Instructional Resources survey that was fielded last spring on which these findings are based. Then Ashley Woo will share some findings from our report just out yesterday, which gathered data from a nationally representative sample of teachers across the U.S. to explore which types of teachers engage in anti-bias education, what types of instructional materials they use, and how they think anti-bias education could be better supported. I'll put the URL for that report in the chat in a moment. The report was also authored by Rebecca Lawrence, who is sadly leaving us for a doctoral program this fall, and Sy Doan, my fellow colead of the American Instructional Resources Survey and a policy researcher at RAND.
So, everything that has been happening in the world over the last several years, from racial injustice protests across the globe to the large number of states that have passed legislation limiting discussions of race and gender, has impressed upon many of us the critical need for thoughtful, rigorous, respectful education that counters racial, ethnic, gender, religious, and many other systemic biases in our communities. We're kind of taking a step back from that debate, in a way, just to share data from a national probability-based sample of K–12 teachers from last spring on what they do in their classrooms every day to combat bias and what supports they need.
As Ashley shares findings, we'll pause at various points to allow you to think through how you might have answered some of the same survey questions from your vantage point, knowing what you know about schools, and we'll ask discussants for their thoughts. Importantly, we will monitor the Q&A feature to address any questions we can, so please feel free throughout the presentation to use that feature to post constructive questions we can try to answer about our research and that our discussants could also try to answer based on their own practical work. We will either answer those questions on the fly, if we can, or try to address them by the end of the presentation.
So first, I'm going to talk just a little bit about the American Educator Panels. The American Educator Panels consist of educators and administrators across the United States who have agreed to respond to periodic surveys on educational issues of national import. We have an American Teacher Panel of about 25,000 teachers, an American School Leader Panel of about 7,500 school leaders, and then, newly, we have an American School District Panel of superintendents who respond about issues of educational import. Next slide, please.
So, several features make the American Educator Panels unique. First, these are randomly selected participants. We're trying as hard as we can to represent teachers across the globe. We draw these samples based on comprehensive lists of teachers and principals. We can look at survey results over time, or we can just look at a specific survey, as we do today. Teachers or school leaders who complete get an honorarium based on survey length, and the data that we gather for most surveys is available for free on our AEP data portal. We also have a lovely partner, Kitamba, who provides free data visualization tools for exploring these data, including the data that you're going to be hearing about today. That American Instructional Resources Survey data is available on our data portal. Next slide.
So, where is the data coming from that we'll be talking about today? So, the survey itself is called the American Instructional Resources Survey, and it focuses on what English language arts, math, and science materials are being used in schools and how and why materials are being used and what factors support their use. You'll notice that the survey doesn't include social studies. It was constructed originally to focus on English language arts, math, and science. But it does include an elementary sample of teachers of all subjects. And it also includes secondary teachers of ELA, math, and science. So if anything, the findings we share could potentially underestimate the extent to which anti-bias education or instruction is happening in classrooms because secondary social studies teachers are not part of that sample. So that's just something to keep in mind. Of course, in the future, we'd love to really understand from social studies teachers what they're doing in their classrooms as well.
So, the survey questions that we are going to talk about today come from the Spring administration of AIRS. We're planning another administration in Spring 2022 that contains a repeat of some of these items so we can learn more about what's happening this year.
OK, so without further ado, I'm going to turn it over to Ashley, who is the main author on this report, and we'll talk through some of our findings.
Thanks, Julia. And so, before we jump into our research questions and our findings, we wanted to talk a little bit about how we define anti-bias education in our survey and our report. So it was important for us to provide a definition to ground the survey questions that we asked teachers, especially because teachers might have a lot of varied interpretations. People might define it in different ways. And so this definition that we used was drawn from the works of other scholars and the social justice standards that were created by the organization Learning for Justice. And so, drawing on those works, our definition is focused on the four domains of identity, diversity, justice, and action. And so thus we define "anti-bias education" as an approach to education that emphasizes the development of students' positive social identities and fosters their comfort and respect for different dimensions of diversity, including, for example, race and ethnicity, gender identity, religious identity, immigration status, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, and ability status. It's also intended to raise their awareness of and promote their capacity to act against bias and injustice. And so this is the definition that we presented to teachers who were taking the 2021 AIRS.
Next, we wanted to provide an overview of the three research questions that we investigated in our report. And so the first research question is, "which teachers engaged in anti-bias education?" Our second research question is, "what types of instructional materials did teachers use to provide anti-bias education?" And our third research question was, "how can anti-bias education be better supported?"
And so first, we look at, basically, who is engaging in anti-bias education. So in our survey, we asked teachers about what types of instructional materials they use to provide anti-bias instruction. And teachers were able to select from a number of different options, but they were also able to report that they don't provide any anti-bias instruction at all. And in fact, this was the first response option that was presented to teachers. And so this is the question that we used to ascertain who was providing anti-bias education in our report. But we also wanted to note that we asked a different question in September 2020 to a different nationally representative sample of teachers, asking teachers the extent to which they provided anti-bias education—whether to a small, moderate, or large extent—and arrived at a very similar percentage of teachers indicating that they do provide anti-bias education.
And so one of our major findings is that nearly three in four of the K–12 ELA, math, and science teachers that we surveyed, including elementary teachers in multiple subjects, reported that they provided anti-bias education, whether through their school- or district-provided materials, materials that they created themselves, materials that they found themselves, or without the use of materials at all. And this is represented by the bar on the very left, circled in blue. Notably, as Julia mentioned, our survey did not include teachers whose main teaching assignment is only social studies. So we might have even underestimated the proportion of teachers engaging in anti-bias education, especially at the secondary level.
You'll also see on this graph that more novice teachers, with one to three years of experience, were more likely to provide anti-bias education than their more-experienced counterparts. You'll also see that about 80 percent of general elementary and ELA teachers reported providing anti-bias education, in comparison to about 60 percent of math and science teachers. In addition, you'll also see that Black or African-American teachers, female teachers, urban teachers, and elementary teachers were also more likely than their counterparts to provide anti-bias education.
And so we have a few hypotheses for why we might be seeing these trends, drawing on some of teachers' open-ended responses. So, for example, as we noted earlier, Black or African-American teachers were more likely than non– Black or African-American teachers to provide anti-bias education. And we hypothesize that teachers might be drawing on their own lived experiences when engaging in classroom practices or encouraging discussions relating to equity or bias in the classrooms, as you can see in this quote here.
We also found that general elementary and ELA teachers were more likely than math and science teachers to provide anti-bias education. General elementary teachers who teach multiple subjects might also teach social studies, which could account for this difference. And in addition, previous research indicates that elementary teachers place a greater emphasis on the social and emotional development of students and receive more support from their schools to implement SEL. So, even though they're not exactly the same, teachers might be thinking of SEL and anti-bias education as intersecting in some ways. And so this greater emphasis on SEL at the elementary level could also potentially account for this difference as well. Might also be that ELA teachers view ELA, as a subject, is better suited for anti-bias instruction, or maybe that math and science teachers might have a harder time connecting anti-bias education to their subject area. So as an example, here's a quote from an ELA teacher who described how ELA teachers at their school use materials like novels and news articles and discussions of students' personal experiences to provide instruction around anti-bias education.
So, now that we've covered a little bit of the "who," next we move into the question of "what." So in other words, what types of materials are teachers using?
So, as I mentioned earlier, we asked teachers which instructional materials they use, and we gave them a set of options as well as the opportunity to provide an open-ended description of their materials. So, here are the results from that survey item. So, teachers were able to select "all that apply," so that's why these bars don't sum to a hundred. And so, these results suggest that teachers use a wide variety of materials to provide anti-bias education, ranging from things they found themselves to things they created, as well as their school- or district-provided materials for their subject area.
And in fact, the most common response is that they didn't use instructional materials at all to teach anti-bias topics, instead leaning on activities like classroom discussions. And so, in our report, we also focus in on teachers who use their school- or district-provided materials for their subject area, because we thought subject area instructional materials could be one avenue for schools and districts to support teachers, by providing them with materials that adequately address anti-bias topics and academic content. And so here, we found that about a third of teachers reported using such materials for anti-bias education. And this percentage was even higher for Black or African-American teachers, teachers of color, and teachers serving higher proportions of students of color, but especially low among science and high school teachers. We hypothesize that these differences across different types of teachers could also be explained by the differences in the support provided by their school and the availability of resources or differences in teachers' beliefs and priorities for their students.
This is a quote from a middle school ELA teacher that shows how teachers could have used different types of instructional materials to provide anti-bias education. So, for example, their subject area curriculum could have anti-bias instruction built in. Or they could also be creating their own materials from scratch to represent different perspectives and achievements, as this teacher did.
We also allowed teachers to provide open-ended responses, where they can name or describe the materials that they used to provide anti-bias education. And so, in the open-ended responses, teachers also named a wide variety of materials, including SEL curricula, as described by this teacher here. They also use literature, or fill their libraries with books that represent different perspectives or which touch on social justice issues as a starting point for classroom discussions, as described by this teacher. And teachers also reported the use of strategies or practices that weren't tied to specific materials at all. So, this included the use of pedagogical methods like culturally responsive pedagogy, professional development, or the use of restorative practices. And other responses that we observed in the data included the use of news articles or current event articles, such as those from Newsela, or the use of websites like Teachers Pay Teachers and YouTube, or integration into academic content. And overall, we found that few teachers—only about three and a half percent of the teachers that responded to the survey—reported the use of materials that were explicitly designed to focus on anti-bias topics, like those from Learning for Justice or Facing History and Ourselves.
Thanks so much, Ashley. So, we're going to stop for a minute. We've talked through our findings on the first two questions that were our main research questions, like "Which teachers are providing anti-bias instruction among the teachers we asked?" And also, "What kinds of materials are they using?" So I'm wondering first, from Dr. Reed Marshall and Dr. Paska, if you had any particular reflections. You know, what resonated for you among these findings? What implications do they cause you to draw or think about? And we'll invite either of you to start us off.
Tanji Reed Marshall
Well, if you don't mind, I'll go ahead and start. One, I want to start by saying what a pleasure it is for me to be here today. Thank you for the invitation to join you.
As I thought about and took my notes on the information that Ashley shared, I was struck by the stark differences between the ELA teachers and the math and science teachers. That, you know, that sort of 17- to 18-point difference was a big number for me. And I was wondering, what must science and math teachers be thinking about as they consider their instructional practices? Are they merely thinking of content separate from a person's identity?
So sometimes, when we think about math, we think math is just straightforward–one plus one equals two—and I don't have time to make it relevant, or I don't know how to be anti-biased in that. And so I wondered around, you know, whether that was a factor of instruction, whether that was a factor of knowledge, and whether maybe it was a factor of underlying belief practices. So, "my beliefs are driving my practices. Therefore, I may not be attuned or be willing to be attuned to how I am attending to the biases that show up in the world through math and science." Right? Because I think maybe they're not thinking about bias, how it sort of lives and breathes. If I am in– if I'm doing a study in science and I'm looking at, say, water, we can sort of boil water down to H2O and keep it moving. But H2O in, say, New York City is very different than H2O in Buffalo, New York, which is also different than H2O in Flint, Michigan, as we have seen. And so I just kept wondering about the ways in which, instructionally and content-wise, were those teachers not seeing the ways in which bias moves in the world? Those are my thoughts about that.
Thank you. Yeah, that was great. And I think it makes us all think about, like, preparation programs and what they could be addressing, right, across content areas as well as professional learning. And so we'll talk a little bit about support. But first, I want to circle back to Dr. Paska and see if he has any other thoughts to add there.
Sure. And again, I want to thank you for the opportunity to present as well today and to share with you. And for all the participants, I hope that this is a helpful conversation in getting us to think about how we support anti-bias education across curricula.
First and foremost, the definition of anti-bias education that was offered in the survey, talking about developing positive social identities. I think it's a very critical word, because when we think of— really, this is what we do in school. We are helping to shape our youngest learners into active, engaged, civically-engaged people. And how we do that is we invite you to learn about yourself, the role you see for yourself in the world, the role of those like you and those who have differences from you and how we both celebrate that and understand that. And so I thought that definition was very helpful, because when you're framing anti-bias as "this is about producing a positive outcome for identity; this is about helping to shape a learner to see themselves, in the best possible way to see themselves as part of a larger community," that's really critical.
So the fact that, OK, about three-quarters of our educators are teaching— providing anti-bias education in some way, that's a good number, but that also suggests there are a quarter that are not. What really struck me is the teachers who may have fewer years of experience, elementary, ELA tend to offer an anti-bias program more in their classroom. I think, as we talked about at the beginning of this, the lack of data from social studies educators, of course, can limit how we interpret these overall results. I would—again, without the data in front of me—would suggest that anti-bias education is a big part of social education. That part of what we do in our history, our geography, our economics, our civics classes is to understand the various ways that both—and just taking U.S. history as an example—the ways in which the American dream has been realized and celebrated by many. The ways in which it's not always been. Not all Americans have been able to—and all those who have been in the United States—have been able to participate equitably in achieving their dreams or goals. That there's been marginalization, silencing of voices, movement of whole cultures across lands. These things are very real, and I think in a social education classroom, you would see some of these topics addressed more. So my guess is that the percentages may not change, but the number of teachers who are reporting that they do provide anti-bias education somehow through their curriculum would change.
Little striking, though, that the number of teachers who are not using any instructional materials at all—close to 40 percent—and then coupling that with those that find materials on their own. So, we have almost three quarters of our respondents are either not using any kind of material or they may be finding their own material. And so I guess my follow-up questions would be, how are we assuring that there is quality to what is being found—the internet, all the textbook and print resources that are available? How do we know what a mark of quality is for anti-bias education?
And for those teachers who are creating their own materials, one question I kind of have is, are they sharing what they're creating? So, most schools, teachers freely share materials together with each other. But are there exemplars or models of best practice in anti-bias learning that are being created by teachers? And how do we identify who those educators are and how we can hold up their work as a model or a promising practice in this area? I'd like to know that, because, just given the fact that there may be many teachers thinking, "I don't know what materials are out there, I'm not sure what's good to use. I do trust my peers, but I'm not even sure who in my school or those I know who are educators are offering an anti-bias curriculum." The idea of sharing best practices and identifying, kind of, educators that are strong in providing anti-bias learning, would be good to almost have that as a next step. So I just offer those as a few reflections for now.
Those are actually really helpful suggestions for us as researchers, as we think about how to get into this topic better. And totally right that social studies teachers are the next piece. We really need to understand what social studies teachers are— how social studies teachers are responding to this question. But you know, I'm struck by previous conversations I've had with Dr. Paska and Dr. Reed Marshall, where they kind of emphasize, you know, it's everyone's responsibility to address these topics. And so I totally agree. But again, what we're providing may provide somewhat of a skewed picture of what's being, what's happening in schools, because we don't have that social studies teachers' perspective, at least at the secondary level. At the elementary level, I think most teachers in our sample are teachers of all subjects. So we have it to some extent there, but not at the secondary level.
But such great questions for future study, like trying to understand how much access to expertise teachers have, and whether there is some way that they could be brought together more frequently to work with each other, and whether they have a peer network to work with. Those are great questions.
And I see another question from the audience, and that's great. At these pause points, do feel free to just, like, post a question that you may have. Charles Baldwin says, "I'm also wondering, those that are creating materials, if those are teachers of colors mainly." Oh, that's actually something we can look at, Charles. So, we should look at that and try to figure out if that's the case. I don't know if Ashley, off the top of her head, happens to know an answer to that question. Not to put you on the spot, Ashley, since you don't— you aren't the knower of everything about these survey data.
Yeah, that is a really great question. And I did have, of course, all of my spreadsheets pulled up for this presentation. Looking at teachers who created materials from scratch, and the race of the teachers who reported doing so, there were actually no significant differences among the teachers of different races and ethnicities. But having said that, I know that in this particular survey, we didn't focus on oversampling teachers of color. And so part of that could also be, like, a sample size issue.
Yeah, thanks, Ashley. Way to answer a question on the fly. That was awesome. All right. Well, unless there's another question posted in the next second, I'm going to go on to the next piece of our presentation. But again, feel free to use those QA.
Oh, and I see Mr. Bowman saying, "as a former math teacher of color, I had to create materials myself." And I think, you know, our data definitely reflect that. I don't know what Ashley would say about that, but I think that most of our data do suggest that when teachers are using materials— sometimes, like, I think, around a third of teachers, if I'm remembering the last slide correctly, said that they, you know, rely on district- or school-provided materials. But the rest said, you know, find materials myself, create them myself, use just no materials and kind of just like, do it on the fly, potentially. Don't know if Ashley or other— or Dr. Reed Miller or Dr. Paska have any other thoughts on that.
Tanji Reed Marshall
I mean, I think they have to. It depends on— again, I think Dr. Paska made the point of quality. If I am understanding what anti-bias means in my content as an ELA teacher, I might be more willing to use it as a vehicle. If when I am teaching math, the elements of mathematical knowledge, and I am not helping— and I'm not using a perspective of math in the real world—not real-world math, the math in the world—if I'm not adopting math in the world or science in the world, I'm going to, it's very unlikely that the curriculum provided is going to take that perspective. And so if you have that perspective of math in the world or science in the world, you're going to have to create your own materials. Because when we get math and science, it is concepts. This is photosynthesis. This is algebraic functioning. And so to make the switch, the dynamic switch of applying a lens even remotely close to your lens of anti-bias is going to require some introduction of my own materials, because publishers are currently not creating materials that way.
And I just want to read another comment from the chat from Dr. Saroja Warner, who said, "And therein lies the dangers. Well-intentioned teachers tackling content and reading conversations without expertise and effective, vetted, high-quality materials. The stakes are too high for us to ignore these findings." Really appreciate that. And I think, you know, it does suggest that teachers across the U.S. are probably doing this in such different ways and with such different interpretations of what they should do because there might not be enough guidance.
If I may, I'd like to just suggest, too, that in social studies classrooms, we often start with an analysis of sources. Right? So a lot of times, we're teaching our young learners what the difference is between a primary and a secondary source. In really strong classes, we're going to be analyzing sources and saying, you know, how do you know the evidence here supports what you're trying to claim? How do we know this is a valid and reliable source? So I think that question about being well-intentioned, but if we don't have, really, a rubric or a measure of what high quality looks like, that can be troubling. And I can see why many educators may say, you know, "I'm just not comfortable working with materials. I don't know how they fit. Or I'm not really even sure how to create my own." But because we start often with sources, I think especially in a social studies context, but also with ELA, and again, as Dr. Marshall's mentioning talking about scientific concepts and mathematical reasoning. Any time you're looking at a source, that's also an opportunity to maybe shift the focus off a person and onto, what are the words saying? What is the meaning that's conveyed here? And if that is, if that's an entry point to help educators feel more comfortable, because you are interrogating a source, a piece of information, you're interrogating its completeness, you're interrogating whether it's representing the voices of all whose voices need to be heard at that moment, that might be a possible entry point.
Yeah, that's great. I do want to just answer one more question from the audience before we go on to the next piece of our presentation. So again, feel free to keep posting questions, and we'll address them at the end.
So Katrina asks, "How do we shift assessment practices and accountability systems to value or measure all the dimensions that are defined by anti-bias education, including supporting learners to learn about their individual identities and those of others?" Which is another way, right, to think about the quality of what's being provided, is to be able to assess it and see if what is provided is actually shifting practice. But speaking as a researcher who has thought about measuring these things, it's so hard to measure these things. It really is. I don't know if others in the, others on the panel have any thoughts about this?
Tanji Reed Marshall
I'll just say it's a big-ticket item. Like when you go to Best Buy and you get a small ticket versus a big ticket. This is a big-ticket item.
And I come down on the side of asking another question. What is it about these elements that we want to measure? And, in measuring them, what do we, what statement are we trying to make? And how best would it be that we measure them? Because a lot of measurement— and the other question I would come back with is, why do we want– what is it that we want to know? Because when I'm measuring something, it's because I want to know something, right? And so, are we measuring students? Are we measure— like, what would be the unit of measure that we're trying to learn about? Because assessing knowledge, the way we do it now, is—it is what it is. It's not great. It does what it does, and we know that there's a lot of pushing back. But when we get into thorny, more-nuanced areas of human development, we have to ask a different set of questions. And how do we want to measure them? And the content we're using has to align to a new set of questions. And so, changing the assessment system needs to be changed anyway. When we begin to consider how we fold these kinds of conversations in it, are we certain that measuring anti bias is absolutely a viable thing? And who, actually, do we measure? Do we measure the children? Or do we measure the adults? And I kind of want to measure the adults first, so I kind of want to ask the adults the questions first before I start measuring anti bias in children, because it is so fluid. It is so dynamic. It is so non-linear. And so we could run into making even more mistakes than we're making now.
Yeah, that's a great, great point. And if you're going to see changes in children, you're going to see instruction change first, is something we always think about when we're thinking about measurement in our evaluation work at RAND. So that's such a good point. It'll help us to articulate what we think is important if we're thinking about what to measure and what teachers do, for example, or what school leaders do. I'm going to move us along so that we can get to the last piece of our findings. So I'm going to ask Ashley to pick it back up and just look at our last research question about how could anti-bias education be better supported?
Yeah, thank you. And thank you all for all the questions and the discussion. I thought this— it all keys very well into some of the implications or recommendations that we have at the end. So hopefully some of what we talk about towards the end will kind of help to illuminate some of the answers to these questions.
And so, as Julia mentioned, our last research question is, "how could anti-bias education be better supported?" And specifically, we looked at how teachers could be better supported through stronger instructional materials, thinking about some of those aspects of quality that we were just discussing, professional learning and also the preparation experiences.
So, we focus first on the adequacy of teachers' curriculum materials. And we asked teachers to rate the extent to which their ELA, math, and science curriculum materials provided by their school or district as a recommendation or requirement were adequate for each of the following purposes that are listed here below, which are key to the anti-bias domains of identity, diversity, justice, and action.
And so here were our survey results showing teachers' adequacy ratings. And so, for the adequacy ratings, we used a seven-point scale where one meant "completely inadequate" and seven meant "completely adequate." And four meant "adequate in some ways, and inadequate in others." And so, in our analysis, we define "adequate" as a rating of at least five, because this meant that teachers felt positively about whether their materials met each of the listed purposes. And so, basically, everything in green would be considered adequate. And overall, when we looked at how teachers rated their materials across all of these different purposes, we found that about 53 percent of teachers reported that the materials were not adequate for any of the purposes listed, and just 19 percent of teachers rated their materials as a five or higher for all six purposes. And looking across the different purposes, we also found that teachers viewed their materials as more adequate in the domains of diversity and identity, which are on the left, than in the action and justice domains, which are the right two columns, around helping students understand bias and justice and determining appropriate action, which is basically what our audience said as well.
So, to better understand the relationship between teachers' perceptions about the adequacy of their materials and their use of materials, we average teachers' adequacy ratings for each of the purposes that we just showed earlier to create a summary adequacy measure. And so, basically, this shows whether teachers felt that their curriculum materials were good at addressing anti-bias topics or not. And the left side shows a lower average adequacy rating, while the right side shows a higher average adequacy rating. So, this shows that, among teachers who had the lowest average adequacy rating, only 25 percent of them use their school- or district-provided materials for their subject area to provide anti-bias education. In contrast, among the teachers who had the highest average adequacy ratings, 47 percent of teachers used their school- or district-provided subject area materials for anti-bias education. So this suggests, again, an opportunity for schools and districts to support teachers by providing them with materials that adequately address anti-bias topics.
We then asked teachers about their professional learning opportunities and preparation experiences and whether those experiences prepared them to engage in instructional activities relating to anti-bias topics. And one caveat is that we only asked the preparation items on the right to teachers who completed their preparation within the last five years, while the professional learning items were presented to all teachers. And so, we display here the percentage of teachers who reported that their professional learning or their preparation program experiences prepared them to a moderate or great extent to engage in instructional activities relating to anti-bias education. And across all of the instructional activities listed, nearly four in ten teachers reported that their professional learning did not prepare them at all to engage in these activities. And this is important, because teachers' professional learning and preparation could be important for shaping their beliefs and helping them feel prepared to provide anti-bias education. Perhaps unsurprisingly, teachers who received professional learning and preparation experiences that better prepared them to address anti-bias topics were more likely to feel somewhat or very well prepared to provide anti-bias education. And teachers who received professional learning that better prepared them to address anti-bias topics were also more likely to consider culturally relevant content and approaches extremely important.
And so, finally, we explore relationships between teachers' beliefs, such as those around the importance of culturally relevant content and approaches, teachers' preparedness to provide anti-bias education, and teachers' provision of anti-bias education. And we found that almost half of teachers who provided anti-bias education in any form also stated that they found culturally relevant content and approaches extremely important. And about three-fourths of those teachers also said that they felt somewhat or very well prepared to provide anti-bias education. And as you can see here, those numbers are much lower for teachers who didn't provide any anti-bias education at all.
And so finally, I wanted to talk a little bit about some implications and recommendations that come out of our research. So, out of these findings, we offer five recommendations for policymakers, state and local education leaders, curriculum developers, and researchers.
So, our first recommendation is to develop a shared definition of anti-bias education and a clear framework for implementation. So, because teachers were often discussing a lot of different frameworks and approaches like SEL, restorative practices, and culturally responsive pedagogies while explaining their approach to anti-bias education, we thought that a more standardized approach to and a clear definition for anti-bias education could help different stakeholders share a common language and clarify goals and objectives. This could then form the basis for other activities like professional learning, curriculum development and selection, and also, as we were just talking about a little bit earlier, thinking about measurement and progress monitoring.
Our second recommendation is to identify and encourage the use of evidence-based instructional materials and practices for anti-bias education. And so, this is especially important, because we found that many instructional materials that were specifically designed to address anti-bias topics don't appear to be widely used by many teachers, which means that many teachers are potentially leaving these materials untapped. So, education leaders might consider reviewing the existing materials, understanding their impacts on inequality, and curating and promoting a set of materials that align with their vision for anti-bias education, and providing professional learning to support the use of those materials to make sure that implementation is high quality.
And our third recommendation is to better understand the barriers that teachers are facing in providing anti-bias education. So, teachers might not be engaging in anti-bias education for a variety of different reasons. They might lack support from leadership. They might not think it's appropriate for schools, or they might lack resources and strong instructional materials. And so, we encourage educational leaders to collect data to understand where your teachers are. To understand, what resources do they need? What are the challenges that they face? And this can further help leaders develop professional learning sessions or curate a set of instructional materials.
Our fourth recommendation is to incorporate anti-bias concepts, particularly those around justice and action, into curriculum development and selection processes. So, integrating these elements into curricula could reduce the burden on teachers by allowing them to reach anti-bias objectives and academic objectives simultaneously. This is especially true for themes around justice and action, since teachers tended to rate their materials as lower on these domains.
And our last recommendation is to invest in efforts to increase the diversity of the educator workforce and provide opportunities for Black or African-American educators and educators of color to lead anti-bias initiatives. So, education leaders might consider ways that these educators can contribute their expertise on these topics by, for example, taking on–but also, importantly, being appropriately compensated for—leadership roles in curriculum development, review adoption, and implementation.
OK. So, we shared a lot. Now we're going to pause again. One thing that I just want to bring up that was written in the chat, before I go to panel comments, is that Dr. Warner noted that while she appreciates the final recommendation, she wanted to highlight that, of course, we need to create opportunities for teachers of color to lead. They should never carry the burden for ensuring anti-bias initiatives happen and succeed. This is our collective responsibility, which is definitely a phrase that we really appreciate. And Ashley, do you want to talk for a minute just about your, kind of, reflections on that question as well? Because I know we've been thinking a lot about the diversity of the educator workforce at the same time, but I think Dr. Warner is completely right about that, that we can't expect every teacher of color to take that burden up. So what thoughts you have on that, too?
Yeah. And I think this is another place where it would be useful to understand the perspectives of different educators. I think in some of our work around educator diversity, we're cautious to make sure that educators are not feeling as though they're being tokenized in this kind of work. But I think, definitely, our research does show that these educators, both Black or African-American educators and educators of color, are more likely to report that they feel somewhat or very well prepared to do this work. So I think to the extent that educators are willing and wanting to provide leadership on these topics, I think it is important to think about making sure that they are compensated for their work. That they, that this is not being done in a way that tokenizes these educators, but instead provides them an opportunity to elevate their voices in this space. And I definitely agree with Dr. Warner that this is a collective responsibility, that all educators should be thinking about these topics.
Thanks very much, Ashley. OK. So, I think we also want to hear back from Dr. Reed Marshall and Dr. Paska on some of the things that we shared just now about teacher support. Who would like to start us off?
I guess I'll start us off this time. I would say first, what this data tends to show right now, what these findings are tending to show to me anyway, is something that we've been grappling with in American education probably for as long as we've had American education, which is, how do we provide quality professional learning opportunities so that teachers—who are licensed professionals, just like lawyers, real estate agents, contractors—how are we ensuring that they have the tools they need to help their students succeed? So, I'm reading in a lot of this, and especially that slide on teachers reporting how their professional learning opportunities did not prepare them to address these topics.
What's kind of ironic is that when we go into our standards—and I'll just talk about our social studies standards for a moment—at the state level, we also have optional curriculum standards for schools and districts and states to use. This language is actually already written into these standards. In fact, in our own— we have a framework for inquiry in social studies, and the comment about, or, the note that's supporting students to understand individual level bias and systems, determining appropriate actions against bias and injustice. That's exactly what our inquiry model in social studies is all about. It's helping kids to prepare for the types of actions they may take as, both as kids now and when they grow up. What do you do when you detect bias? How do you know you're seeing— how do you know you're seeing injustice as it's happening? And what would you do to change that? So that's exactly what we do. It's what our standards teach us.
I know ELA standards focus in a very similar way as well. And I think increasingly, math and science and other content areas also feel this collective pull, kind of, to: what is the outcome of what we're learning? And what what are you doing to change the world through what you're learning—the knowledge, the concepts, the competencies you're building?
I represent a professional learning organization. When my bio was read earlier, I worked in professional development leadership prior. The critical role of professional development has to be elevated to a prominent level in this conversation. What we're, what I'm seeing in this data is that teachers, again, they're going to create their own materials. They're not sure where to go for quality materials. They may be selecting things that are provided to them from a district. But ultimately, if we're very serious about anti-bias learning in our classrooms, then we need to invest in PD. The good news is, that investment doesn't have to be expensive. Because again, it's going right back to the very standards that a district or a state has already approved for use. The words are there; the language is there. It's just a question of how are we prioritizing the resources, the training time, the space for educators to test ideas out with each other, test what works, what may not work, build that mark of quality that I see some of you in the chat box are asking about today?
But I would really encourage all of us to go back now, as an outcome of reading this report, and look back at your state's standards in different subject areas. Start with social studies. Look at ELA. Look at all subject areas. I would bet you that several of the competencies that are outlined there could connect directly to what anti-bias education is about. So we already can start from somewhere. It's not like we're building this from the ground up.
And my last comment to this, too, is that I know, especially in our discipline, in social studies, teachers are very stressed for time—quote unquote covering content, trying to get kids ready for graduation-level exams or exit assessments. This isn't an either/or. It's not like you have to drop your teaching to do anti-bias education, nor is anti-bias education separate. It's together. It's when we're talking and sharing the stories. When we're talking about culture groups and the impact of cultures on societies over time. How different individuals and groups have contributed to the growth of societies over time. We can bring this learning right into those discussions. So it's not an either/or. But it is a professional development obligation on the part of our system to to provide the space for teachers to be adequately trained. We often say that our role as professional associations is to help educators help the kids. But in reality, we, I think as a society have to prioritize professional learning as a fundamental right of educators in order to help them be expert and accomplished and comfortable in the space of providing meaningful anti-bias learning.
Thank you so much, Dr. Paska. And thinking also about, like, the fact that professional development is often a place where teachers learn about those standards. And sometimes they don't have that, right? So we have a lot of standards, as you say, that really drive home that students should be learning these things. But sometimes in our research, we find that teachers don't necessarily know much about their standards, which is an obligation, I think, of professional learning, too. To make sure that teachers understand them. But then also, of course, the next step is what to do with that. What do you do in the classroom? Yeah. Dr. Reed Marshall, do you have anything else to share?
Tanji Reed Marshall
Yeah. First, I want to— oh. Can you hear me? I think my— I got some weird thing. OK, thank you.
First, one of the— in the chat box, Dr. Christine Sleeter is joining us, whose work is phenomenal in this area. And she belongs to an organization, NAME dot org, which is the National Association of Multicultural Education. And their work is widely known for addressing anti-bias, multicultural education and system-level change as necessary. So I'll start with that.
Next, I will say, one of the things that struck me was the need for this understanding of standards. Do I know them? Do I understand what they look like, feel like when I'm doing it with my students? The next thing is, do I know what it looks like and sounds like when they give it back to me? Right?
We talk a lot about action, and we assume that justice-informed action is going to be external to the school. So, lessons in curricula tend to ask students about injustice in their neighborhoods, injustice in the world around them. Students spend a significant amount of time inside buildings. When you are teaching them about justice and social action, they're going to practice in their place of comfort. That's the classroom. And that's the building. When students begin to do that, they become agentive beings, or they begin to exercise that agency in the place where they're going to recognize it first and foremost.
Along with helping teachers understand this need to incorporate anti-bias instructional practices and using anti-bias materials, they also have to be trained to be ready for students to recognize their bias and how the adults' bias is coming at them in their buildings and in their classrooms. When students begin to recognize that and voice that, there's a particular group of students who will be vulnerable to teachers' use of protective power measures against what kids are doing. So, anti-bias education has to help teachers be ready for when students begin to exercise agency and name the teacher's bias, and name school bias, as it is enacted in front of them.
That's something that we don't talk so much about in terms of preparing teachers. We take them straight to content. We take them straight to instructional practices. But we need to back them up a little bit and help them dig into, what's it going to feel like when an African-American young man, who society characterizes as dangerous, comes at me and opens my eyes to my own bias? How will I use my power-laden abilities against that student? Will I use them in concert? Will I work to protect myself? Will I use them in ways that furthers their agency and then moves them to empowerment?
So there's a lot going in the action piece I've been teasing a lot about, because children are vulnerable when we start asking them to take action. They're vulnerable. And so we have to be very careful when we start saying, teach them about social action and get them in there. If we're not walking alongside them, helping them understand how to walk through that process, they become vulnerable. And adults have to be very careful in that one. I really like that idea. And I really think that implication is right. And I would add what I just said about really being judicious, responsible, and really careful before we start marching children off into action land, for lack of a better term. Because we've got to get into our power dynamics, there's a real power dynamic at play, when all of this is either happening or not happening. We've got to address those issues, those areas.
Oh, thank you, Dr. Reed Marshall. It really just drives home how hard this work is, right, to do well and how much of a responsibility, but challenge, it is for teachers to do this work well. Which just kind of circles back to the point that Dr. Paska made about the need for really thoughtful, professional learning on these issues.
I just want to mention really briefly, since we're nearly at the end of our time, that you can get free access to these data at getbento.info or by emailing the Kitamba team in case you want to just explore it yourself. If you don't have any statistical expertise, it's OK. You can still use their tools. And you should also go to our website to explore our latest findings. So, I have that up there, too.
I would be remiss if I didn't say that there is one other question we didn't get to talk about today. Actually, a couple of different questions we didn't get to talk about today. So, I'm sorry for those that didn't get their questions addressed, but I really appreciate everyone for acknowledging the challenges of this work and especially our discussants, Dr. Paska and Dr. Reed Marshall, for really thinking about the practical implications of this work. It was so useful to have you all here. So, thanks again.
Since we're at the end of the hour, we're at the end of our webinar. But thanks to everyone, and we'll hope to hear from you by email if you do have questions for us. That last slide that Ashley is going to put up there shows our email addresses. Oops, the slide went away. So feel free to reach out to us if you'd like. You can look up our information online and reach out to us if you do have further questions.