##
Culturally Valid Assessment for Indigenous Learners

Culturally valid assessment requires teachers to be aware of hidden codes, teachers’ cultural self-identities, and implicit assumptions in test items or assignment directions for both formative and summative assessments (Solano-Flores & Nelson-Barber, 2001).^{1}

Consider, for instance, the simple question, “How far is it between Regina and Saskatoon.” A mathematics teacher would say, “About 260 km.” An Indigenous learner raised in a fairly traditional family would likely answer, “Two and a half hours.” The worldviews of mainstream Canadian culture can often differ from Indigenous worldviews; in this case, seeing the world with different space-time lenses.

On the one hand, Western mathematics provides an *intellectual* understanding. On the other hand, Indigenous mathematizing provides an *intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual* understanding. In other words, mathematics follows a knowledge tradition of understanding the world, while Indigenous Elders teach a wisdom tradition of understanding it.

Many, but not all, Indigenous learners may expect Western mathematics to convey a wisdom tradition of understanding, and then evaluate its knowledge tradition as being superficial compared to their expectations; therefore, unworthy of their concentrated effort. As a result, something as fundamental as “What does ‘understanding mathematics’ mean?” is a cultural issue open to conflicting interpretations. Major culture clashes occur when teachers assume a knowledge tradition while their learners expect a wisdom tradition to be taught.

However, conflicting interpretations is an issue with non-Indigenous learners as well. Degrees of culture clash exist between:

- many learners’ cultural self-identities (who they are, where they have been, where they are going, who they want to become, and the non-formal languages they speak), (Boaler & Selling, 2017, p. 82)
^{2}and - learners’ views of school math, or their views of a person who thinks, talks, and believes like a mathematician.

*Culturally invalid assessment *occurs when culture clashes of learners are ignored; rather than being recognized and attempts made to ameliorate the clashes.

^{1}Solano-Flores, G., & Nelson-Barber, S. (2001). On the cultural validity of science assessments. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38, 553-573.

^{2}Boaler, J., & Selling, S. (2017). Psychological imprisonment or intellectual freedom? A longitudinal study of contrasting school mathematics approaches and their impact on adults’ lives. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 48(1), 78-105. Can be downloaded at: https://saskmath.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/JRME_Boaler_longitudinal.pdf

Share this