Cultural Relevance Versus Construct Relevance: How do we Create Culturally Responsive Assessments?

A desk with a computer, pens, and papers is overlapped with the words assessment, measure, evaluation, and analysis

2022 NCME Equity in Assessment Webinar

January 19th, 3:00 – 4:30pm ET

The year 2015 marked a significant tipping point in our educational system: it was the first year in which White students did not make up more than 50% of the US public school student body. As the country grows continually diverse, so does the importance of ensuring curricula and assessments reflect this diversity. This urgency to implement responsive practices and programs was recently compounded by the pandemic’s disproportionate effect on students from traditionally marginalized communities. Now more than ever, the sector is faced with the challenge of ensuring inclusion and responsiveness in all aspects of our educational system.

Traditional assessment practices have suggested that to make assessments accessible to all students, regardless of racial or cultural background, we must remove any construct-irrelevant variable, including culture-specific contextual items, that may unintentionally privilege or hinder performance. However, a growing body of literature calls for the use of culture-specific contextual items, citing that culturally relevant material will increase engagement, interest, and inclusion of marginalized students.

Given these seemingly disparate ideas, the proposed webinar seeks to allow for an understanding of these ideas in education and how they might play out in classroom formative, interim and summative contexts as we seek to develop equity-focused assessments. The webinar will start with an introduction and overview of both universal design for assessment and culturally responsive assessment practices. Then a panel of experts in assessment development and culturally relevant pedagogy will discuss how these ideas could and/or should be implemented in various types of assessments. All panelists acknowledge the importance of bias-free assessments and the importance of cultural and linguistic responsiveness in education, but all continue to seek the best way to address the tension in these two aspects.


  • Dr. Jennifer Lee, Assistant Director of the Capstone Institute at Howard University.


  • Dr. Fiona Hinds, Senior Advisor, Equity & Transformation, Cognia Inc. 
  • Dr. Katie McClarty, Vice President of Research and Design at Renaissance. 
  • Dr. Chastity McFarlan, Content Quality Manager at Renaissance. 
  • Dr. Akuoma Nwadike, founder of Inclusivity Education. 
  • Dr. Molly Faulkner-Bond is a Senior Research Associate at WestEd and co-founder of the UDL-IRN Assessment and Measurement SIG

Join the Webinar (Passcode: 497427)

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