Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE)

Based at the University of California, Santa Cruz, CREDE is assisting the nation's population of diverse students, including those at risk of educational failure, to achieve academic excellence. The purpose of CREDE's research is to identify and develop effective educational practices for linguistic and cultural minority students, as those placed at risk by factors of race, poverty, and geographic location.

In addition to the University of Southern California (USC/CREDE) effort, CREDE partners include: ARC Associates, Brown University, California State University at Long Beach, Center for Applied Linguistics, Claremont Graduate School, George Mason University, Johns Hopkins University, Linguistic Minority Research Institute (LMRI), National Center for Early Development and Learning, RAND, San Jose State University, TERC, University of Arizona, University of California, Davis, University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, San Diego, University of Colorado, Boulder, University of Hawaii, University of Houston, University of Louisville, University of Memphis, Western Washington University.

Formerly the National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning, CREDE will continue and improve upon the work of the (NCRCDSLL). The research program is based on a sociocultural theoretical framework that is sensitive to diverse cultures and languages, but powerful enough to identify the great commonalities that unite people. It is based on 8 principles:

All children can learn.
All children learn best when challenged by high standards.
English proficiency is a goal for all students.
Bilingual proficiency is desirable for all students.
Language and cultural diversity can be assets for teaching and learning.
Teaching and learning must be accommodated to individuals.
Risk factors can be mitigated by schools that teach the skills that schools require.
Solutions to risk factors must be grounded in a valid general theory of developmental, teaching, and schooling processes.

As part of its work, CREDE will operate over 30 projects under six programmatic strands:

Research on language learning opportunities will highlight exemplary programmatic choices.

Effective professional development practices for teachers, paraeducators, and principals will be explored.

The influence and interaction of family, peers, and community on the education of linguistically and culturally diverse students will be examined.

Instruction in context will look at teaching these students in different content areas, such as science and math.

Successful integrated school reform initiatives will be identified and documented.

Research on assessment investigates alternative methods for evaluating the academic achievement of language minority students.

Central to its mission, CREDE's research and development focuses on critical issues in the education of linguistic and cultural minority students and those placed at risk by factors of race, poverty, and geographic location.

In order to implement its mission, the CREDE effort is designing, developing and disseminating a comprehensive curricular and instructional framework that is strong, flexible, and inclusive of diversity among all individuals and communities.

For 25 years, education has been deeply concerned for students placed at risk of educational failure, due to poverty, race, or cultural and linguistic diversity. Many programs were developed to increase the success of specific groups: Native American, Native Hawaiian, inner-city African-American, Latino, or Asian immigrants. But there cannot be a separate program for every group, and most American classrooms have students of many ethnic or linguistic origins.

Is there any way of teaching and learning that is effective for ALL students? The five standards for effective pedagogy are the results of many years work by the Center for Research in Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE) and its predecessor, the National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning. (Under the same leadership, the line of work began at the Kamehameha Early Education Program, Honolulu, in 1970). CREDE researchers have scoured the research and development literature, looking for agreements among educators working with every diverse group. And have actually found five basic principles that everyone agrees on, whether they are working with Puerto Ricans, African Americans, Native Hawaiians, Native American Indians, Mexican immigrants, Appalachian urban immigrant whites, Southeast Asian newcomers, Eskimos or Aleuts, or mainstream gifted and talented. The five principles where then put through a consensus process, presenting them to every kind of educational group: researchers, teachers, parents, administrators, policy makers; in focus groups and in large auditoriums; in workshops and conferences; in professional meetings and community meetings. This process took five years; it has been over two years since CREDE has encountered any disagreement. It appears there is actually a consensus.

CREDE has now issued these consensus statements as "Standards," by which we mean ideals that we can all set for ourselves -- ideals for best teaching practices. Thus they express the principles of effective pedagogy for all students. Even for mainstream students, the Standards describe the ideal conditions for instruction; but for at-risk students, the Standards are vital.

The Standards are expressed in the theoretical language of the sociocultural perspective. Of course not all the original reports use that vocabulary, indeed many writers whose work has contributed to the consensus work within other theoretical systems. Agreement across theorists adds to the credibility of the consensus. But there are advantages to expressing the Standards in a uniform theoretical language, because the interactions among them are revealed.


JOINT PRODUCTIVE ACTIVITY - Teacher and Students Producing Together

LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT - Developing Language and Literacy Across the Curriculum

CONTEXTUALIZATION - Making Meaning: Connecting School to Students' Lives

CHALLENGING ACTIVITIES - Teaching Complex Thinking

INSTRUCTIONAL CONVERSATION - Teaching Through Conversation

The University of Southern California Rossier School of Education participation in the CREDE effort is under the PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT strand. This group of projects will examine the characteristics, careers, pre-service education, and in-service professional development of educators of bilingual and culturally diverse at-risk students.

The USC/CREDE study,"Latino Paraeducators as Teachers: Building on Funds of Knowledge to Improve Instruction", is focused on how bilingual Latino paraeducators provide instruction to Latino students. This will be accomplished by assessing the nature and use of their existing funds of knowledge. Funds of knowledge are language, social norms, and other cultural and linguistic community and family resources, such as social history, and bodies of knowledge that are essential to a community's functioning and well-being. The project will study candidates entering the teacher training program at the University of Southern California and recent graduates of the training program.

The research team conducting this study consists of USC Faculty members Robert Rueda, Michael Genzuk, and Reynaldo Baca, (co-Principal Investigators) along with Carmen DeNeve, an outside consultant and several graduate students including Lilia Monzo, Ignacio Higareda, Yesenia Pineda, Lorenza Arengo, Sobeida Vizcarra, Isabel Melendez and Patricia Madrigal.

The purpose of the study is to examine the "natural" knowledge that these paraeducators bring to instructional interactions in the classroom -- more simply put, non-school-based professional development knowledge. Paraeducators are school employees whose responsibilities are instructional in nature and who deliver other services to students. They work under the supervision of teachers or other professional personnel who have the ultimate responsibility for educational programs. The team has been wrestling with how to document participants cultural and community funds of knowledge related to teaching and how to find instances where that might be used in the instruction provided to their students. After much debate, the team settled on a "backward mapping" approach which reverses the sequence. That is, we will be examining classrooms with an eye to identifying instances of "cultural and linguistic scaffolding", points during instruction where scaffolding by the paraeducator appears to be based on the special knowledge they bring to the classroom from their own backgrounds. Some preliminary categories might include knowledge of the local dialect or language, community knowledge, etc. We will then, through follow-up interviews and other means, try to get a good description of the origin and type of knowledge/expertise that formed the basis for the example. We hope to be able to catalogue the various types of scaffolded interactions and the funds of knowledge that underlie them.

Our original design called for examination of three target groups, at three stages of professional development -- it also made use of the paraeducator to teacher program (the Latino and Language Minority Teacher Project) at USC. This program identifies promising paraeducators and then supports them through their degree and teaching credential objectives. One of the groups we are studying is not currently in the paraeducator program, one group is currently enrolled in the program, and a third cohort consists of recent graduates of the training program who are now teaching. The hope is that this will allow us to see how formal education mediates the application and value of the "funds of knowledge" that we are able to identify.

The initial work led us to include a fourth group in the study that we felt would provide significant information, although it was not identified in the original design. This group is referred to as the "madrina" group -- relatively older, less formally educated, no plans to pursue a teaching credential, but normally from the surrounding community with a rich knowledge of the families and the local school.

Along with classroom observations, we are using formal and informal interviews, ongoing classroom observation, an acculturation measure which will document language use and cultural factors of importance, interviews which will investigate beliefs in key areas, and the ASOS (Activity Setting Observation System) developed by Roland Tharp and his team at the CREDE headquarters in Santa Cruz. We have had a team of research investigators visiting the key schools in our study, and are now nearing completion of the data collection phase of the project.

To better understand the important work that the USC/CREDE team has undertaken we will continue to provide updates on our research efforts. Below you will find resent reports and articles that are the direct result of these efforts.

Paraeducator-To-Teacher Pipeline: A 5-Year Retrospective on an Innovative Teacher Preparation Program for Latina(os).

This article by Michael Genzuk and Reynaldo Baca from the "Journal on Education and Urban Society" provides a 5-year retrospective on the experience of planning and carrying out a paraeducator-to teacher pipeline program. Described are how the project works, lessons learned to date, and directions for the future.

How Paraeducators Build Cultural Bridges In Diverse Classrooms

by Robert Rueda and Carmen DeNeve. In their efforts to accommodate cultural diversity in the classroom, schools have taken a variety of approaches - few of them ideal. In this article, the authors examine how educators can use the "funds of knowledge" available in culturally diverse families and communities to build bridges between the home cultures of students and the cultures of their schools.

For additional information on paraeducators visit our National Clearinghouse for Paraeducator Resources.

Return to this page often to view updates on the progress of this important research effort. Updates will be posted on a regular basis

For further information contact:

Dr. Robert Rueda

Dr. Michael Genzuk

Dr. Reynaldo Baca

FUNDING IS GENEROUSLY PROVIDED BY: Office of Educational Research

National Institute for the Education of At-Risk Students (NIEARS)

Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education