Providing Access to and Supporting the Completion of Educator Preparation Programs
In order to diversify the educator workforce, more racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse candidates need to successfully complete educator preparation programs. Educator preparation programs vary. Some are college or university programs while others are graduate school or residency programs. Still other programs are targeted to people with a bachelor’s or an advanced degree looking to change fields.
The research identifies a variety of barriers to program completion for racially and ethnically diverse candidates: navigating the transition from high school to higher education, the financial burden of higher education, perception of the teaching profession as low-paying or low-status, and basic skills tests as a prerequisite for teaching programs (New America). Any potential solutions must be tailored to the needs of potential candidates and must work to address many of the barriers that racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse candidates face.
Across our region, many states and communities are investing in grow-your-own programs and supports. These programs are sometimes focused around students—providing students access to the coursework, interests, exposure, and credentials necessary to enter preparation programs. Sometimes grow-your-own programs are targeted toward paraprofessionals and community members. Grow your own programs represent a powerful way to build a workforce that is more representative of the students it serves and a promising strategy for authentically engaging a community.
Strategies to Consider
The strategies listed here are applicable to all stakeholders. For role or system-specific recommendations, please return to the table of contents and select a role under “Strategies for Leaders to Consider by Sector.”
- Remove barriers to accessing Pell Grants for adult education enrollees to enable participation in education courses leading to certification.
- Require teacher educators to participate in antiracist and anti-bias training.
- Implement a micro-credential endorsement for culturally responsive teaching (either at the pre-service or inservice level).
- Advocate for districts to cost share in exchange for service to help defray the high cost of becoming a certified paraprofessional, teacher, or administrator.
- Require annual reporting on the percentage of faculty and students of color in educator preparation programs.
- Require anti-bias training for all teacher mentors (supporting prospective educators), education faculty, sponsoring teachers, and coaches.
- Conduct stakeholder surveys of anyone who works with educator preparation candidates to gauge how they are doing with respect to cultural competency.
- Offer college students (in their first two years of study) paid experiences in K-12 schools to expose them to teaching.
- Eliminate the cost of translating certificates from credentialed candidates that require translations.
- Develop mentorship programs between college preparation programs and local districts.