Effort to diversify the K-12 teacher pipeline

Effort to diversify the K-12 teacher pipeline

(N.J.) A handful of university’s and K-12 districts have been awarded grants by the New Jersey Department of Education to expand teacher diversity and implement recruitment and preparation opportunities for teachers of color in high-needs schools.

According to 2017-18 state data, although 56 percent of the state’s nearly 1.4 million students are children of color, teachers of color represent 16 percent of New Jersey’s educator workforce.

Montclair State University and Rutgers University will split a $750,000 grant to fund the development of programs and policies to change that.

Part of the amount, for instance, will go toward strengthening a partnership between Montclair and Newark Public Schools to increase efforts to recruit and retain students of color with strong academic backgrounds to the university’s teacher education program.

Funds from the grant will also fund the development of a pipeline of teacher candidates of color in the district, as well as the creation of a district-based collaborative induction plan for Newark Teacher Project graduates.

Another goal of the grant, university officials said, is to aid in the development of strategies, policies and practices that can be shared with other teacher education programs throughout the state over a 19-month period piloting the new program with Newark schools.

“This grant will help us sustain the work of the Urban Teacher Residency with our Newark partners and it will create a viable model for dissemination across the State of New Jersey–and beyond,” Jennifer Robinson, executive director of the university’s Center of Pedagogy, said in a statement. “Most important, it will help us learn more about how to do this work so that we can increase the diversity of the New Jersey teacher population.”

For more than a decade, studies have shown that educators of color tend to provide more culturally relevant teaching and better understand the situations that students of color may face–factors which can help develop trusting teacher-student relationships.

A 2007 report from the National Bureau of Economic Research showed a positive effect in both reading and math scores when black students were taught by black teachers. The effect was more significant among students who performed at the lowest levels.

In 2015, researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that African American teachers are less likely than white teachers to perceive African American students’ behavior as disruptive. Additionally, black teachers tends to have a much higher estimation of these students’ academic abilities than non-black teacher, and tend to hold them to higher standards.

And in a 2017 study published by the Institute of Labor Economics, researchers found that even having just one black teacher in elementary school significantly reduced dropout rates among low-income black youth.

Such findings have prompted many states to push for ways to develop a more racially and ethnically diverse workforce. Just last week, the Virginia Department of Education awarded $50,000 in grants to help nearly 340 provisionally licensed minority teachers in seven school districts attain full state licensure.

Similar efforts have been made in California, Illinois, New York and Texas, among other states.

In New Jersey, the state education department has said that by 2025, the goal is to ensure that the diversity of the state's novice teacher pool reflect the diversity of its public school students.

Education officials said that doing so will entail not only recruiting students of color into the teaching profession, but also keeping them in the talent pipeline, and helping them maintain a job in a New Jersey school.

In addition to the partnership between Montclair State University and Newark Public Schools, part of the $750,000 grant will go toward Rutgers University's Center for Effective School Practices and Passaic County charter schools to promote recruitment and training opportunities for teachers of color.

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