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Maintaining and for diverse learners A combination of nurturing and rigor is

essential to educating our student population, but

targeted supports are also needed to help students meet achievement goals.

A 18 Leadership

s teachers, schools and school leaders work to better prepare California’s cultural ly and linguistically diverse students,

methods for doing so vary widely. One ap- proach prioritizes safe spaces, welcoming environments, well-structured routines – school and classroom culture features essential for students’ well-being. A sec- ond key priority, often harder to achieve, is maintaining and supporting rigorous aca- demic challenges needed for students’ cur- rent and future success. Academic rigor warrants particular at-

tention, as unchallenging curricula often occur in high-need, lower-income settings with many diverse youth and many English language learners (Oakes, Rogers & Lip- ton, 2006). In reviewing relevant studies, Rivera-McCutchen (2012) notes: “A car- ing education provides students who have a history of poor academic outcomes with an environment that is both emotionally nurturing and academically rigorous.” That combination of nurturing and rigor is es-

sential to education for California’s diverse student population. However, targeted sup- ports also are needed to help students meet rigorous goals.

Toward high challenge and high support A balance of high challenge and high

support provides the right context for learning and growth. In the chart on page 19, upper right quadrant, learning goals are high but attainable, and the teacher de- signs or collects effective supports to help students achieve the goals. Modifying cur- riculum is frequently viewed as the route to full participation of students who may lack academic preparation to engage content fully. Too often, however, such modifica- tion results in stripping classroom activity of the heart and soul of the content. A dif- ferent approach is to hold the bar high and focus on creative, targeted supports to help students engage challenging curriculum as

By Steven Athanases

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