PACE Event

The Impact of 'Culturally Relevant Pedagogy' on Student Performance


There are many reasons to think that instructional practices and curriculum content that are aligned with minority students’ experiences will lead to improved school performance and help to close achievement gaps. Ethnic studies courses are one example of such “culturally relevant pedagogy” (CRP), but empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these courses in raising achievement among at-risk students is limited.

In this seminar Emily Penner presents results from a study of the implementation of an ethnic studies curriculum in one California school district. Assignment to an ethnic studies course increased ninth-grade attendance by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points, and credits earned by 23. These surprisingly large effects suggest that CRP, when implemented in a high-fidelity context, can provide effective support to at-risk students.


  • Emily Penner, Assistant Professor, University of California, Irvine