Diversifying the Teacher Workforce Through Early Pathways

Writing for Education Strategy Group (ESG), Nicole Osborne recently reviewed promising initiatives that serve to diversify the teacher workforce by engaging high school students in an educator pipeline. Excerpts of the piece appear below:

There are bright spots within programs across the country with strong practices in place that can serve as signposts for building high-quality early educator pathways, but leaders have to stitch together relevant pieces from those programs to strengthen existing models. It is rare to find pathways that recruit high school students of color and offer them an accelerated and affordable route to teacher licensing. It is more unusual still to find those that have been established long enough to provide data on their outcomes. For example:

A number of programs across the country have made great strides in recruiting high school students of color to the teaching profession. The Center for Black Educator Development recruits students who see themselves as young scholars and future educators who are serious about intellectual development, social change, and civic leadership, honing in on those with a penchant toward activism.

Dual enrollment plays a prominent role in early educator pathways as an effective strategy to accelerate students’ time to a bachelor’s degree. In Texas, the state requires early college high school (ECHS) student bodies to reflect their district population. Students at Dallas Independent School District’s (DISD) Sunset High School are able to earn an Associate of Arts in Teaching at Dallas College prior to graduation — potentially reducing their time to a bachelor’s degree in Teacher Education by two years. Those who complete that program are also awarded a hiring letter of intent by DISD to encourage them to “return home” for a K-12 teaching position.

Apprenticeship “earn and learn” programs and state scholarship programs both play a role in increasing the affordability of educator pathways. The Cherry Creek School District’s Future Educator Pathway in Denver, Colorado is a youth apprenticeship program supported by CareerWise Colorado that employs high school juniors and seniors as paraprofessionals while accumulating a salary and retirement benefits. At the same time, these apprentices earn credit toward a teaching degree at the University of Colorado Denver. In addition, there are some state scholarship programs designed specifically for teacher preparation – including South Carolina’s Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA) and Illinois’s Golden Apple Scholars program – that provide highly competitive scholarships to teacher preparation candidates pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

For more information and to see the recommendations that ESG makes in building out these early educator career pathways, see https://edstrategy.org/diversifying-the-teacher-workforce-through-early-pathways/