Assessing Without Labels: Culturally Defined Inclusive Education

David F. Philpott


This paper will explore the place of assessment in a culturally defined paradigm of inclusive education. Given the global trend towards inclusive classrooms, defined by a social justice view of learner diversity, the diagnostic/prescriptive medical view of special education is becoming increasingly antiquated. What is emerging is a growing preference towards empowering the class- room teacher with the knowledge and skills to identify the authentic needs of students and to differentiate instruction to respond to those needs. In a contemporary Canadian society characterized by shifting demographics, and increasing linguistic and cultural diversity, this perspective holds particular relevance. In fact, the history of inclusive education parallels, in many ways, the history of aboriginal1 education, as typified in the territory of Nunavut where a stated commitment to establishing a broader view of diversity is creating a system in which children celebrate difference. This pa- per explores the wealth of literature on this issue and establishes a Canadian context to present Nunavut’s model as being exemplary within this global debate.

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