Teacher demographics and diversity challenges

by Amy Campbell
 
Texas prides itself on being different from other states. After all, we’re the largest state in the lower 48—but how different are our teachers and students from the rest of the United States?
 
The US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released results from its 2015–2016 National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), which collected data from a representative sample of public K-12 schools, teachers, and principals on a variety of topics, including teacher demographics. Review of the NTPS information in conjunction with student and teacher data from Texas sources highlights many differences between Texas and national teachers and students, as well as some similarities. 

Racial and ethnic distribution of students and teachers

White students comprise the majority of students nationwide (52.7 percent of total students), followed by Hispanic students (22.4 percent) and African American students (16.4 percent). In Texas, white students represent only 28.5 percent of total students. Minority students make up nearly three-quarters of the total student population in Texas, with Hispanic students representing the largest group at 52.2 percent, followed by African American students at 12.6 percent.
 
A majority-minority student population isn’t surprising, considering Texas is one of four states in the US, along with California, Hawaii, and New Mexico, where the majority of the adult population are minorities. Even though the overall population in Texas is majority-minority, white teachers still make up the largest group in the state (60.8 percent). Hispanic teachers represent 26.0 percent and African American teachers represent 10.1 percent of total teachers.
 
But, the Texas teaching workforce is more diverse than teachers nationally. Across the US, white teachers represent 80.1 percent of total teachers. Hispanic teachers are the second largest group at 8.8 percent of total teachers, followed by African American teachers at 6.7 percent.
 
Despite the relatively low proportion of minority teachers, the number of minority teachers nationwide has doubled over the past few decades. However, the increase hasn’t kept up with the growing minority student population or the changing diversity of the overall population. According to a study from the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, closing the nationwide diversity gap would require that about a million white teachers leave teaching and be replaced by about 300,000 African American teachers and more than 600,000 Hispanic teachers. And that would only achieve parity with the current student population, the study points out. The student population will continue to become even more diverse each year, necessitating even more minority teachers.
 
African American and Hispanic teachers in Texas increased by 7 percent between 2011–2012 and 2015–2016, but in total these minority teachers still represent just over a third of total teachers, while minority students are more than two-thirds of total students and growing. 

The reasoning

So, why are there fewer teachers of color, both nationwide and in Texas? One barrier is the disparity in degree attainment between minorities and whites. A significantly smaller portion of the African American and Hispanic population earn bachelor’s degrees. In 2014–2015, the latest data available from NCES, 66.5 percent of all degrees conferred were granted to white students. Twelve percent were conferred to Hispanic students, and only 10.6 percent were conferred to African American students.
 
In Texas, those figures aren’t all that different. Nearly half of the degrees conferred in 2014–2015 were granted to white students (48.6 percent), while Hispanic students earned 28.9 percent and African American students earned 9.8 percent of total degrees conferred in the state.
 
Fewer minorities earning bachelor’s degrees means a smaller number of minorities available to become teachers. And are the minority graduates showing interest in teaching as a career? Unfortunately not. In its July 2016 “The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce” report, the US Department of Education reported that only 25 percent of individuals enrolled in a teacher preparation program at an institution of higher education were people of color. In contrast, 37 percent of total students in those same institutions are students of color. 

Fixing the disparities

This issue is compounded by lower completion rates for minority students—those that are interested in teaching are not finishing their degrees at the same rate as white students. Nearly three-quarters of bachelor’s degree students majoring in education complete their degree within six years. However, only 43 percent of African American education majors and 49 percent of Hispanic education majors complete their degree in the same timeframe. So, more than half of the relatively small number of minority students with an interest in education never finish their education degree.
 
Some researchers point to this being a self-perpetuating problem: because the number of minority teachers hasn’t grown in proportion to the number of minority students, fewer minority students are taught by minority teachers. These students may not see teaching as a viable or valuable career choice for people of color because they lack minority teacher role models.
 
And national data shows that teachers of color are more likely to change schools or leave the profession entirely than their white colleagues. In 2012–2013, nearly 22 percent of African American teachers changed schools or left the profession, compared to only 15 percent of white teachers. The Brown Center study also shows that African American and Hispanic teachers are hired and retained at lower rates than their white colleagues. Four years after graduating, a higher proportion of white college graduates have worked as teachers compared to minority graduates. In other words, more minority teachers complete teacher prep programs but never get a teaching job, and those that are hired are more likely to leave than their white colleagues.
 
Why is teacher diversity important? Research from a variety of sources show that minority students benefit academically from having minority teachers. Researchers posit that minority students benefit from having role models that look like them in a position of authority, minority teachers are more likely to have high expectations for minority students, and minority teachers approach minority students differently than white teachers, in terms of instructional strategies and student discipline. And data shows a small but meaningful impact on test scores for students with a teacher of their race/ethnicity, with the largest improvements amounting to about an additional month of learning in a school year.
 
Fixing the diversity gap in Texas or across the US is not as easy as focusing on recruiting or hiring for diversity. Closing the gap will require additional steps to make meaningful improvements in developing and keeping a more diverse teacher workforce. We also need to make teaching a desirable profession for students of color to pursue, increase the college enrollment and completion rates of minority education majors, and help retain the teachers of color we already have.
 

Nepotism and its impact on district hiring

by Karen Dooley

The practice of nepotism has always been an issue in school districts across the country, and it’s important for human resources administrators to understand the details of what is and what isn’t acceptable by law.

Texas Gov’t Code §573.002 and §573.041 state an individual who is related to a public official by blood (consanguinity) within the third degree or by marriage (affinity) within the second degree cannot be hired in a school district. In school districts, the term “public official” includes board members and, in some circumstances, the superintendent.

Policy DC (LOCAL) identifies hiring authority within a school district. In cases where the board delegates final hiring authority to the superintendent for certain positions, the superintendent also is considered a public official and his or her relatives can’t be hired. In these circumstances, HR must pay attention to the size of the county in which the district is wholly located or whose largest part is located. If the population of the county is 35,000 or more, the board also remains subject to the nepotism prohibition with respect to all district employees. If the population is less than 35,000, the board is released from the nepotism prohibition for staff delegated for hiring to the superintendent.

Consanguinity

Who would be considered related to a public official by blood (consanguinity) within the first to third degree? First degree is pretty simple: it includes the public official’s child or parent. Second degree includes a public official’s:
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Sibling
Finally, third degree includes the public official’s:
  • Great grandparent
  • Great grandchild
  • Aunt
  • Uncle
  • Niece
  • Nephew
There is no distinction under the nepotism statute between half-blood and full-blood relations. Thus, half-blood relationships fall within the same degree as those of the full-blood.

Affinity

Who would be considered related to a public official by marriage (affinity) within the first and second degree? First degree would include the public official’s stepparent, son or daughter in-law, stepchild, or parent in-law. The public official’s grandparent’s spouse, grandchild’s spouse, sibling’s spouse, spouse’s grandparent, spouse’s grandchild, or spouse’s siblings would be a second degree relationship by affinity.

So, can an affinity relationship end because of a divorce? The ending of a marriage by divorce or death of a spouse ends relationships of affinity created by that marriage unless a child of the marriage is living, in which case the marriage is considered to continue as long as a child of that marriage lives and only until the youngest child in the marriage reaches the age of 21. Charts illustrating the various family relationships are available in the HR Library topic, Employment Laws.

Exceptions

Employment of a public official’s relative is allowed in the following circumstances:
  • As a substitute teacher
  • As a bus driver if the district is located wholly in, or whose largest part is located in, a county with a population of less than 35,000 according to the most recent federal census
  • Continuous employment if the individual was employed in the position before the election or appointment of the related public official. Prior employment must be continuous for at least 30 days, if the public official is appointed; or six months, if the public official is elected (Tex. Gov’t Code §573.062(a)).
If any of these exceptions apply, the public official who is related to the employee shall not participate in any deliberation or vote on the appointment, reappointment, employment, reemployment, change in status, compensation, or dismissal of the employee, if such action applies only to the employee and is not action taken regarding a bona fide class or category of employee (Tex. Gov’t Code §573.062(b)).
 

A look at the teacher supply in Texas

by Cindy Clegg

Despite persistent shortage areas, Texas’ production of newly certified teachers has held steady during the past two years.

Since the devastating budget and staffing cuts in the 2011–2012 school year, new production has been slowly inching upwards. This is not to say that our production levels are anywhere near what we need to serve the nearly 68,000 new students added last year—but the numbers are moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, not all of the newly certified teachers seek or find employment. On average, about 25 percent of all newly certified teachers do not end up employed in a Texas school the following year. 
 
final-chart.png
Source: Texas Education Agency (TEA)

Where the new teachers come from

When alternative certification programs were first introduced in the mid-1990s, the idea was met with vigorous opposition by many professional educators. Some school boards even adopted policies to prohibit the employment of any teacher who held an alternative certificate.

Today, alternative certification programs produce the lion’s share of all new teachers and it is hard to imagine where we would be without them. As enrollment in traditional university programs declines, alternative certification has been picking up the slack. In 2014–2015, 43 percent (10,617) of all newly certified teachers came from alternative certification programs. In 2015–2016, that number has climbed to 62 percent (15,515). An added bonus is that alternative certification programs produce more minority candidates than traditional programs and have higher employment rates for their graduates.
 
New Certified Teachers by Preparation Route (2015–2016)
Preparation Route Number Percent
Alternative Certification 15,515 62%
University Post-Baccalaureate 1,087 4%
University Undergraduate 8,282 33%
Source: TEA

STEM teacher shortage lingers

Production of new math teachers was down at last count—from 2,113 in 2013–2014 to 1,904 in 2015–2016—but the numbers show a very slight uptick in new science teachers—from 1,504 to 1,555. These numbers are even more concerning in light of the fact that Texas has nearly 3,500 secondary schools. Shortage areas lead to more teachers teaching outside of their field of certification. The total number of out-of-field teachers reported last school year was nearly 7 percent. In high school math, the number teaching out of field was 11.8 percent and in computer science it was 16.2 percent. 

Teacher attrition

Attrition means the loss of employees. In this analysis, the data reflects teachers leaving Texas public schools altogether. New hires are employed teachers with no previous teaching experience in Texas schools. Other teachers have one or more years of experience teaching in Texas schools. Average attrition rates have been holding steady for the past five years, but attrition rates have been clearly higher for new hires than for experienced teachers for the last four years, indicating a need for greater support for beginning teachers.
 
Year Total Teachers
Employed
All Attrition New Hires
  Number Percent Number Percent
2015-16 352,631 35,931 10.2% 41,093 11.7%
2014-15 347,469 34,807 10.0% 42,625 12.3%
2013-14 339,651 34,759 10.2% 41,823 12.3%
2012-13 332,587 34,424 10.4% 37,659 11.3%
2011-12 329,352 35,800 10.9% 24,871 7.6%
Source: TEA
 
Overall, the current data available on production of new teachers in Texas indicates that the shortage is not getting worse—nor is it getting better. These numbers certainly have nothing to do with the issue of teacher quality. The need to improve the conditions of teaching as a rewarding professional career continues.
 

HR Extras

Introducing TEA’s Texas Equity Toolkit

The Texas Equity Plan Toolkit supports districts in the process of developing a district equity plan.

Equity plans are required among districts in accordance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Texas Education Agency (TEA) annually reports on the state’s equity gaps as they try to identify which low-income students and students of color are in classrooms with inexperienced, out-of-field, or ineffective teachers.

Developed by TEA, the toolkit includes a roadmap reporting template, a project management template, submission guidelines, and train-the-trainer materials.

In addition, the toolkit provides downloadable step-by-step directions for completion of each section of the equity plan template:
  • Step 1: Engaging and Communicating with Stakeholders
  • Step 2: Reviewing and Analyzing Data
  • Step 3: Conducting Root Cause Analysis
  • Step 4: Selecting Strategies
  • Step 5: Planning for Implementation

The Texas Equity Plan Toolkit can be accessed at texasequitytoolkit.org. Districts must submit their plans to TEA by November 1, 2017.                    

By the numbers: Public opinion of school trends

A report from Education Next revealed some enlightening statistics about public opinion of various education topics. We highlighted a few that may be most relevant to public school district personnel in Texas.
  • 61 percent of Americans think teacher salaries should be raised
  • 46 percent of the public are in favor of merit-based pay for teachers
    • Only 15 percent of teachers are in favor of this practice
  • 39 percent of respondents say they support the formation of charter schools, down 12 percent from a year ago
  • 22 percent of parents want their child to pursue a two-year associate’s degree at a community college
  • 44 percent of respondents think the effects would be positive if students spent more time on computers at school
The report provides additional details and is available online for those interested in reading more.
 

Inside HR Services

Salary survey important dates

Superintendent Salary Survey: results data for 2017–2018 will be available for members in DataCentral on October 16. The Superintendent Compensation in Texas Public School report (PDF) will be available in myTASB in November.
 
District Personnel Salary Survey: due this week—submit the District Personnel Survey by Friday, October 6. To make the most of your HR Services subscription, we encourage your district to complete and submit the survey to salary.survey@tasb.org.

Community College Salary Survey: deadline approaching—colleges should submit their survey by Friday, October 13.
 
Extra-Duty Stipend Survey: will launch October 24. Invitations will be emailed to HR Services contacts.

HR Academy just weeks away

The annual Texas School HR Administrators Academy is set to begin October 30 at Austin Mariott North. Co-sponsored by TASB and the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA), the HR Academy provides new administrators with the information and resources they need to meet the challenges of a career in HR.

Experienced school HR administrators, HR consultants, and a school law attorney are the seminar facilitators and presenters. Topic sessions cover the primary HR functions and critical issues every new administrator encounters. Opportunities to participate in networking activities and the best ways to use HR resources are the focal point of this seminar. A resource notebook and lunch are included in the registration fee.

Register early and save $65
$385 for registrations received by October 12, 2017. After October 12, registration is $450.