Category Archives: Diversity Resources

Articles and research on diversity in education

Connecticut Takes Steps To Increase Teacher Diversity

Connecticut’s state board of education has taken a number of steps to increase the number of teachers of color in the state’s public schools.

According to reporting by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas of the Connecticut Mirror, the board adopted a number of initiatives in recent years.

One program OK’d by the board will allow college graduates without a teaching degree to gain teaching certification. Teach for America will run this program, which is expected to enroll about 20 bilingual individuals each year. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and with at least a 3.0 grade point average.

In another initiative, the board late in 2018 voted to allow Relay, an alternative program, to continue to operate following completion of a pilot program. Some 91 people completed the pilot program last year, of which 8 percent were white. Relay enables paraprofessionals and others without a teaching degree to pursue a program leading to teaching certification.

 

Latino Students Increasing Faster Than Minority Teachers

Increasing numbers of teachers of color have not kept pace with the influx of Latino students entering Connecticut’s public schools.

This is the conclusion of an investigation by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas of the Connecticut Mirror, an online newsletter that can be found at ctmirror.org

While increases in Latino teachers haven’t kept pace with the number of Latino students, the number of black educators has remained steady although the number of black students has declined.

There are only two minority teachers for every 100 students of color in the public schools of Connecticut. The picture for whit teachers and students is quite different. Last year there were about 17 white teachers for every 100 white students. This is up from a ratio of 12 white teachers for every 100 white students in 2005-06.

Overall, students of color comprise almost half of the students in public schools in Connecticut.

Last year 23 school districts didn’t have a single minority educator on staff, state data show. Among traditional school districts, Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven have the highest rates of minority teachers, with about one-in-four educators being a minority. Some charter schools have higher ratios.

“Many students of color in Connecticut will spend 13 years in school only learning from white teachers” Camara Stokes Hudson, an associate policy fellow at the left-leaning think tank Connecticut Voices for Children, told the state legislature’s education committee earlier this year. “These students will miss out on the academic and social benefits from learning from a teacher who shares their cultures, family contexts, and whom can serve as unique role models.”

She testified that, “Minority teachers have the benefit of raising aspirations for students who look like them.”

Many school districts have been trying to increase the diversity of their educational staffs. But doing so has proved difficult.

One factor is the lack of diversity in the teacher-preparation programs at the state’s colleges and universities.

Of the nearly 2,500 students enrolled in teacher-preparation programs in Connecticut during the 2016-17 school year, 82 percent were white, 4 percent were black, and 8 percent were Hispanic, according to data from the state education department.

Black Teachers Boost College Enrollment For Black Students

The influence of having a black teacher can make a monumental difference in a black student’s life, according to a study by researchers at the University of Connecticut and three other universities.

Having just one black teacher in elementary school not only makes children more like to graduate from high school – it also makes them significantly more likely to enroll in college.

All it takes is one black teacher to influence a student. Black students who’d had just one black teacher by third grade were 13 percent more likely to enroll in college – and those who’d had two were 32 percent more likely.

The findings, from researchers at UConn, Johns Hopkins University, American University, and the University of California-Davis, were published recently in a working paper titled “The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers” from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Teachers’ Expectations Also Important

Another, related working paper by the same team titled “Teacher Expectations Matter,” also published today by NBER, found teachers’ beliefs about a student’s college potential can become self-fulfilling prophecies. Every 20 percent increase in a teacher’s expectations raised the actual chance of finishing college for white students by about 6 percent and 10 percent for black students.

However, because black students had the strongest endorsements from black teachers, and black teachers are scarce, they have less chance to reap the benefit of high expectations than their white peers.

Positive Outcomes Last Into Adulthood

Both papers underscore mounting evidence that same race teachers benefit students, and demonstrate that for black students in particular, positive outcomes sparked by the so-called role model effect can last into adulthood and potentially shrink the educational attainment gap. “

Black student students often don’t have parents or other black adults in their lives who have gone to college and gotten professional jobs,” says Joshua Hyman, an assistant professor of public policy at UConn, who has a joint appointment in the Department of Educational Leadership in the Neag School of Education. Hyman co-authored the papers along with researchers from the three other universities.

One Black Teacher Can Make a Difference

“All it takes is one black teacher to influence a student,” he adds. “They see someone like them in their classroom and start to believe they can go to college too, and get a good job.”

The paper appears to be the first to document the long-term reach of the role model effect. The researchers previously found that having at least one black teacher in elementary school reduced their probability of dropping out by 29 percent for low-income black students – and 39 percent for very low-income black boys.

The latest findings are based on data from the Tennessee STAR class size reduction experiment that started in 1986 and randomly assigned disadvantaged kindergarten students to various sizes of classroom. The researchers replicated the findings with similar data for North Carolina students.

Importance of Teachers in Early Grades 

The study found that black students who’d had a black teacher in kindergarten were as much as 18 percent more likely than their peers to enroll in college. Getting a black teacher in their first STAR year, any year up to third grade, increased a black student’s likelihood of enrolling in college by 13 percent. Black children who had two black teachers during the program were 32 percent more likely to go to college than their peers who didn’t have black teachers at all.

“What’s very interesting about this paper is that it looks later in a student’s life,” says Hyman. “It’s impressive that the impression of having a black elementary school teacher last that long. It helps reduce the race gap.”

In addition, students who had at least one black teacher in grades K-3 were about 10 percent more likely to be described by their 4th grade teachers as “persistent” or kids who “made an effort” and “tried to finish difficult work,” the researchers found. These students were also marginally more likely to ask questions and talk about school subjects out of class.

Although enrolling in college is a positive outcome, one concern, according to the researchers, is that the main enrollment effect is driven by students choosing community college, where degrees aren’t as lucrative as those from four-year colleges. It’s also unclear because of incomplete data how many of the students from the study who enrolled in college eventually graduated.

Need To Double the Number of Black Teachers

Despite clear benefits for black students from same-race teachers, diversifying the education workforce so that every black student in the United States could have one would mean doubling the current number of black teachers, the researchers say. To put this into context, that would require 8 percent of all black college graduates to become teachers.

Regarding teacher expectations, the authors previously found that when evaluating the same black student, white teachers expected significantly less academic success than black teachers. Now the researchers show compelling evidence that these biases affect whether students make it to college, graduate, and begin their adult life focused on a career.

“One of the lingering issues of this paper is that we have to entice black people to enter the teaching areas,” says Hyman. “In schools where there is a large black population, that has to be addressed.”

Thanks to UConn for publishing this report.