Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy and QRIS: Leveraging Systems to Improve Academic Achievement of Marginalized Students

Elizabeth Nichols, University of Texas at El Paso


Culturally sustaining pedagogy is being utilized to support racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse students in some classrooms and schools across the nation. Minoritized students currently have higher disciplinary rates and lower graduation rates. This leads to the question: at what age should educators begin implementing culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP) to support positive academic, social, and emotional outcomes in young children? This thesis explores how preschool programs implement culturally sustaining practices in their classroom environments through interactions with students, family/community engagement, and social justice activities. I also examine how the implementation of CSP improves academic, social, and emotional outcomes among minoritized children. CSP is the ideal approach to creating high-quality programs for marginalized students in early childhood programs. Quality Rating Improvement Systems (QRIS), which work with early childhood programs, to improve their quality, provide a potential system that can be leveraged to support the national implementation of CSP. I propose implementing CSP through QRIS will improve the quality of early childhood programs and thus, improve outcomes in early childhood education for minoritized students. In this thesis, I provide background on QRIS and examine the ways QRIS can leverage training, practice-based coaching, and ongoing assessments to further the implementation of culturally sustaining pedagogy in preschool classrooms nationwide. Implementing CSP in QRIS would establish a need for early childhood coaches who specialize in CSP to provide on-site coaching to early childhood programs nationally. QRIS systems implementing CSP would fundamentally shift the way early childhood thinks about quality and the ways in which we assess quality for marginalized communities.

Subject Area

Education|Pedagogy|Early childhood education

Recommended Citation

Nichols, Elizabeth, "Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy and QRIS: Leveraging Systems to Improve Academic Achievement of Marginalized Students" (2024). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI31240297.