Washington, D.C. — A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that raising the competitive bar for entry into the modern teaching workforce does not need to come at the cost of simultaneously continuing to promote diversity in the teacher profession. CAP’s report identifies unique challenges and solutions to accomplish both goals, given the existing underrepresentation of people of color in the teacher pipeline and the rapidly increasing diversity of the student populations. The analysis also provides empirical evidence from states and individual education programs that have proven successful in achieving both aims.
“Racial diversity benefits everyone, whether it’s students or teachers. Developing proven and rigorous standards to increase selectivity within the teacher workforce and keeping the U.S. workforce competitive on an international scale does not—and should not—need to come at the cost of diversity within the teacher pipeline. Both are mutually beneficial to improving the quality of America’s education system across the board and can even be mutually reinforcing,” said Catherine Brown, vice president of Education Policy at CAP.
Currently, the teacher pipeline in the United States has both a low number of people of color as well as roadblocks to attracting high-quality candidates. In 40 percent of U.S. schools, there are no teachers of color on staff, and yet studies have shown that black students are more likely to remain in school if they have a black teacher early in elementary school. Systemic barriers continue to exist for people of color who are more likely to face higher rates of poverty.
Successful white students and students of color often are lured to higher-paying jobs than those in the education profession and have low opinions of the teaching profession as undervalued. At the same time, the United States has consistently lagged internationally in student performance outcomes due to more rigorous selection processes for admission into teacher preparation programs.
CAP’s report suggests that there are steps that can be taken to address these challenges:
- Increase the potential pipeline of teachers of color by increasing the college readiness and high school graduation rates of students of color; 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.
- Provide grant funding for innovative and/or evidence-based recruitment plans and implementation.
- 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, while implementing a phase-in period.
- Increase teacher pay and reduce the cost of education for prospective teachers.
- 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.
Click here to read “American Needs More Teachers of Color and a More Selective Teaching Profession” by Lisette Partelow, Angie Spong, Catherine Brown, and Stephenie Johnson.