The Continuum

The Cultural Proficiency Continuum provides language to describe unhealthy and healthy values and behaviors of persons and policies and practices of organizations.Ā  Additionally, the continuum can help you assess your current state and project your desired state. Movement along the Continuum represents a paradigmatic shift in thinking from holding the view of tolerating diversity to transformative action for equity.


The 6 points of the Continuum are:

  • Cultural Destructiveness – seeking to eliminate vestiges others’ cultures.
  • Cultural Incapacity – seeking to make the culture of others appear to be wrong.
  • Cultural Blindness – unable or refusing to acknowledge the culture of others.
  • Cultural Precompetence – being aware of what one doesn’t know about working in diverse settings. Initial levels of awareness after which a person/organization can move in positive, constructive direction or they can falter, stop and possibly regress.
  • Cultural Competence – viewing one’s personal and organizational work as an interactive arrangement in which the educator enters into diverse settings in a manner that is additive to cultures that are different from the educator.
  • Cultural Proficiency – making the commitment to life-long learning for the purpose of being increasingly effective in serving the educational needs of cultural groups. Holding the vision of what can be and committing to assessments that serve as benchmarks on the road to student success.

The first three points on the left side of the Continuum focus on them as being problematic (i.e., Cultural Destructiveness, Cultural Incapacity, Cultural Blindness). The three points on the right side of the Continuum focus on our practice (i.e., Cultural Precompetence, Cultural Competence, Cultural Proficiency). The left side on the continuum may find us referring to our students as under performing, while the right side would find us referring to the ways in which we are under-serving our students and their communities (the inside-out approach).

Culturally Proficient practice helps shift conversations from the left side to the right side, not by indicting or blaming others, rather by acknowledging comments and help “breakthrough” the negative thinking in using the five Essential Elements as the foundation for reflection and dialogue.