New research indicates that while teachers of color contribute to the overall academic success of all students, they further increase graduation rates and mitigate school challenges for students of color.
Yet, they only represent 20% of the teacher workforce, Education Trust reported.
“We know that teachers of color have had some similar experience as our students of color,” said Dr. Wing “Winnie” Yi Chan, director of P-12 research at Education Trust. “They can really help them to navigate some of the challenges that they would face in school, particularly thinking about experiences with race.”
To diversify the profession, states and districts have implemented nontraditional teacher preparation pathways like Grow Your Own programs and teacher residencies.
Despite these efforts, there have been limited strategies to recruit after-school or out-of-school time (OST) program workers, which a new Education Trust report deemed as a “missed opportunity.”
By examining the experiences of teacher candidates of color, “A Natural Fit: Supporting After-School Staff of Color in Teacher Pipelines,” provides key recommendations to policymakers and teacher preparation programs on ways to prioritize the recruitment and retention of after-school and OST staff.
Teachers of color have a “deep commitment” to serving students of color and their communities. For many of the report’s participants, their passion for the field stemmed from working in after-school and OST environments.
With the development of instructional management and relationship building skills, after-school and OST workers felt more prepared to enter teacher preparation programs, according to the report.
“After-school and out-of-school time workers are a diverse and hugely untapped resource that states and teacher preparation programs should be explicitly and enthusiastically recruiting and supporting,” said Eric Duncan, senior P-12 data and policy analyst at Education Trust.
For states and districts, the report suggested providing resources to establish recruitment relationships between non-traditional teacher preparation programs and after-school and OST programs.
Data on teacher candidates with after-school and OST experiences should also be tracked and monitored, according to the research.
“We need to do more to really increase the number of teachers of color in our public schools,” said Chan. “I think afterschool programs are great for the recruitment because many of them have the skills and passion and desire to become teachers.”
The report suggested implementing anti-racist pedagogy as a central part of the programs to support after-school and OST staff of color. The East Harlem Teaching Residency, for example, instilled anti-racist teaching into its program by analyzing disparities in education through the lens of literature and statistics.
To prepare candidates for success in the field, policymakers can adopt statewide guidelines for nontraditional teacher preparation pathways to offer teacher licensure test preparation, mentorship and coaching opportunities, said Chan.
“Many teacher preparation programs actually connected them with other teachers of color who have been in their shoes,” she added. “[The participants] talked about the success and the importance of these mentoring programs to really alleviate some of the challenges that come with becoming teachers of color.”
Financial barriers can also be attributed to the lack of racial diversity within the profession.
Programs such as Davenport University’s Alternative Route to Teacher Certification sought to address affordability challenges. Using grant funding, tuition was reduced from $10,000 to $4,000, according to the report.
States and districts also play a role by increasing their scholarship investments, tuition reimbursement and loan forgiveness for teacher candidates connected to after-school and OST programs. Additional funding can be allocated to develop professional learning opportunities for alumni of nontraditional teacher preparation programs, the report suggested.
“To really have a strong teacher workforce, we really need to pay attention to where the talents are,” said Chan. “And after school programs definitely are full of talent and individuals who have strong passion to become teachers.”
Sarah Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.