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Cultural Competency & Responsiveness

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What is Cultural Competence?

Cultural competence is characterized by a set of skills and developmental experiences constituting an ongoing awareness of important differences among individuals from communities with different backgrounds related to biological, environmental, historical, political, psychological, religious, and other social aspects of heritage (Piotrowski et al., 2019).

According to Cross et al (1989) "Five essential elements contribute to a system's institution's, or agency's ability to become more culturally competent which include:

  1. Valuing diversity
  2. Having the capacity for cultural self-assessment
  3. Being conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact
  4. Having institutionalized culture knowledge
  5. Having developed adaptations to service delivery reflecting an understanding of cultural diversity"

Cultural Competence in Healthcare:

According to Bentancourt et. al. (2002) "Cultural competence in health care describes the ability of systems to provide care to patients with diverse values, beliefs and behaviors, including tailoring delivery to meet patients’ social, cultural, and linguistic needs."

Cultural Competence in Education:

"Cultural competence in schools is the ability to effectively deliver educational services that meet the social, emotional and cultural needs of students. Building cultural competency requires studying the traditions and values of a community, seeking to understand through authentic community engagement, intentionally building trust within a community, and considering their contributions and ideas. It can be intrusive and disrespectful to assume who a community is and what they need to succeed without adequate research and input from community members" (King, 2017).

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What is Cultural Responsiveness?

Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is a research-based approach that makes meaningful connections between what students learn in school and their cultures, languages, and life experiences. These connections help students access rigorous curriculum, develop higher-level academic skills, and see the relevance between what they learn at school and their lives (Educators Team, 2020).

Cultural Responsiveness is extremely important in education, work, and everyday life. It is the ability to understand the different cultural backgrounds of others.

The 8 competencies for culturally responsive teaching: 1. Reflect on One’s Cultural Lens; 2. Recognize and Redress Bias in the System; 3.  Draw on students’ culture to share curriculum and instruction; 4. Bring Real-world Issues into the Classroom; 5. Model High Expectations for All Students; 6. Promote Respect for Students Differences; 7. Collaborate with Families and the Local Community; 8. Communicate in Linguistically and Culturally Responsive Ways.

Source: Teacher Competencies that Promote Culturally Responsive Teaching This link opens in a new window

Learn More:


>Betancourt, J., Green, A. & Carrillo, E. (2002). Cultural competence in health care: Emerging frameworks and practical approaches. The Commonwealth Fund. This link opens in a new window

Cross, T., Bazron, B., Dennis, K., & Isaacs, M., (1989). Towards a culturally competent system of care. Georgetown University Child Development Center, CASSP Technical Assistance Center. This link opens in a new window

Educators Team. (2020). Culturally responsive teaching: What you need to know. Understood. This link opens in a new window

King, I. (2017, November 28). What is a culturally competent school? Kickboard. This link opens in a new window