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Teacher Voices on Diversity Recruitment and Retention

photo of a woman sitting on a yellow bean bag reading to a group of elementary school students

For each new school year, recruiting and retaining a strong teacher base remains a consistent focus. However, attracting diversity among these teachers can provide challenges.

A study by RAND Education and Labor surveyed teachers from Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) groups, and those involved in education policies such as policymakers, researchers, and others to see what policies they believed would be most helpful in bringing in a diverse teacher base to the education field.

Regarding teacher-preparation related policies:

  • Fifty-eight percent of BIPOC teachers agreed student loan forgiveness and scholarships would be helpful. 
  • Thirty-five percent agreed on increasing support for teacher prep programs that focus on minority-serving schools.
  • Thirty-one percent agreed on creating teacher residencies that would support student-teaching while receiving a pay and completing required coursework.

When surveyed on other issues, teachers and policymakers were not in agreement on the best actions to take. Two-thirds of policymakers preferred student loan forgiveness and "grow-your-own" programs that focus on creating teachers from high school students and staff that show an interest. However, only 9 percent of BIPOC teachers agreed.

Additionally, when it came to recruitment and retention strategies, teachers preferred monetary initiatives such as:

  • Salary increases across the pay scale
  • Student loan assistance
  • Higher starting salaries

This differed from policymakers who preferred a targeted financial incentive approach specifically for hard-to-staff positions or for those working in high-needs schools, something EducationWeek noted has not been a popular option among teachers.

Although in agreement on recruitment and retention strategies, teachers themselves were split on which methods would be most effective in attracting new BIPOC teachers to the field. However, there was a common theme — support and community.

Studies have shown the importance of having representation in order to succeed in many fields.  This is true for adults in their careers as well as the students in the classrooms. For the teachers surveyed, it appears they felt similarly.

Support for teachers working with high needs students, time allotted to work with other teachers, and more teacher input on school policies were rated as some of the most favored approaches among those surveyed.

Referring to the options for retention strategies, José Vilson, an executive director of EduColor, said “There’s not going to be just one lever that does it.” He goes on to stress the importance of community and support, “That shared responsibility, that shared understanding, is going to help them stay. No one teacher is by themselves even when they close the door. When they succeed, they succeed because they’re working with colleagues.”

For more information on this topic, check out the full article What Teachers of Color Say Will Actually Work to Diversify the Profession in EducationWeek.

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