Broken Pipeline: Teacher Preparation’s Diversity Problem

Closing the teacher diversity gap is one of the most important steps we can take to make public education more equitable. But as many school systems across the country have prioritized the issue, one institution has largely escaped scrutiny: teacher preparation programs.

In a report from TNTP, researchers use data from the U.S. Department of Education to compare the demographics of each state’s teacher preparation program enrollees to that of public school students to calculate a “teacher prep diversity gap.” They also highlight individual teacher preparation programs that are–and are not–recruiting enough teachers of color to match student demographics in their states. Findings include:

  • Teacher preparation programs are significantly whiter, on average, than the public school population. In the 50 states and Washington, D.C., enrollees at teacher preparation programs are nearly 64% white, while public school students are 47% white.
  • Teacher prep diversity gaps exist in almost every state. Out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., 48 have higher percentages of white teacher preparation program enrollees than white public school students. And the gaps are large in most states: 43 states have a gap that’s at least 10 percentage points.
  • A significant percentage of programs—serving a significant number of future teachers—are more than 90 percent white. Out of the programs that had enrollees in 2017-18, 455 are more than 90% white. They have 52,195 enrollees—11.4% of total teacher preparation enrollment. Many of these programs are large—in fact, there are 35 programs with enrollment of 400 or more that are at least 90% white.
  • Alternative certification programs are significantly more diverse than traditional programs. Traditional programs are 69.6% white, while alternative certification programs are only 46.8% white. While differences in location, size, and other factors between alternative and traditional programs likely explain part of the gap, the data suggest that creating alternative pathways can be a useful tool for states interested in producing more teachers of color.

The report also provides a series of recommendations for programs, districts, and state governments.

To address this problem, all parties involved—from the state and federal government, to teacher preparation programs, to districts—need to commit to and be held accountable for doing better.  

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For the report, see: