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Multicultural Matters: An Investigation of Key Assumptions of Multicultural Education Reform in Teacher Education

Abstract

"Five decades of rhetoric and reform in teacher education underscore the importance of multicultural education in preparing teachers to meet the needs of all students. State and national policy initiatives targeting multicultural education build on two assumptions: first, that preservice teachers lack the multicultural awareness to function as culturally responsive educators, and second, that higher levels of multicultural awareness correspond with increased pedagogical proficiency. Few studies have examined variation in multicultural awareness across preservice candidates, or the link between multicultural awareness and prospective teachers' measured competencies. Using a novel dataset of 2,500 preservice teachers' beliefs and student teacher performance assessments, we find that Black and Latino candidates report greater multicultural awareness, while Asian Americans report less, compared with their White counterparts. Prior experience working with nondominant populations is linked with higher levels of awareness, particularly for minority respondents. Propensity score matching analyses reveal that multicultural awareness is tied to candidates' competence in creating nurturing classroom environments."

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