America Needs More Teachers of Color and a More Selective Teaching Profession

Recently the Center for American Progress released an article exploring the diversity and talent of the American teacher workforce. Excerpts appear below:  

This report examines the case for making candidate diversity and ability equally important criteria in the recruitment and selection of teachers. Looking at available evidence, the report shows that rigorous recruitment and thoughtful selection processes can achieve increased diversity and selectivity simultaneously. It also includes examples of states, institutions, and organizations that have done an exemplary job of setting a high bar for admission and ensuring the diversity of their teacher candidates and the emerging teacher workforce.

Some of the programs that have done an exemplary job of supporting both teacher selectivity and diversity followed paths that can provide lessons for others to emulate. First, these programs have established a selective but reasonably flexible bar for academic standards supplemented by factors such as behavioral competencies that are thought to predict success in the classroom. Second, they have greatly expanded their candidate pools via high-touch recruitment efforts that seek out and support people of color.

Based on these two principles and other lessons from the authors’ analyses, the following recommendations are made for state leaders and policymakers and for traditional and alternative teacher preparation programs.

State leaders and policymakers

Increase the potential pipeline of teachers of color by increasing the college readiness and high school graduation rates of students of color.

Institute a process of regular review and recertification, similar to New York’s, that requires programs to meet a high bar in order to attain recertification. This process should:

  • Require that all programs in the state, at a minimum, attain CAEP accreditation or meet similar requirements.
  • Include public reporting on the diversity of students and faculty.
  • Prevent new programs from opening unless there is a demonstrated need.

Allow a phase-in period for the above changes.

Provide grant funding for innovative and/or evidence-based recruitment plans and implementation.

Close emergency certification routes and fill vacancies with high-quality alternative certification candidates whenever possible.

Increase teacher pay and reduce the cost of education for prospective teachers.

Traditional and alternative teacher preparation programs

Maintain flexibility at the individual level when increasing academic standards and/or use multiple measures or multiple measurement options.

Measure competencies associated with highly effective teachers and invest in research that will improve how predictive those measures are for teacher effectiveness.

Invest in a strategic recruitment campaign with targets and goals to expand the selection pool.

Build word-of-mouth recruitment by making campuses welcoming places for students of color.

Taken together, these recommendations—which have been successfully employed by some teacher preparation programs—provide several options for other such programs to more intentionally recruit diverse, high-achieving students into the teaching profession and provide them with support.

For more, see: