Grow Your Own Programs and Teacher Diversity

November 21, 2022 • Sarah James

Grow Your Own Programs and Teacher Diversity

As the student population increases in racial diversity, districts must continue to seek ways to address the lack of diversity amongst teachers.  

Research has shown that students of color benefit from having teachers who look like them. Test scores, dropout rates, and likelihood to take college entrance exams all improve with no adverse effects on white students. In The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers, researchers found that if a black male student has at least one black teacher in third, fourth, or fifth grade, he is significantly less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to aspire to attend a four-year college.

With this research in mind, it makes sense for school districts to not only actively seek out diverse teachers but to also create pathways to teaching that make the profession more accessible.

“Grow your own” programs

In a recent study of the Teacher Effectiveness and Certification (TEACh) program, an alternative preparation program that partners with school districts with the intent of training diverse cohorts of high-quality teaching candidates to fill hard-to-staff positions, Rand Corporation found that the affordability and local nature of the program drew people in. The TEACh cohorts were more racially and ethnically diverse than other pools of new teachers.

Through partnerships between school districts and colleges, school can recruit from the community. Paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, and other non-teaching staff are often a more diverse group than current teachers, and they are already invested in the students and the community.

Grow your own programs are most effective when they do the following:

  • Lower the cost for teacher trainees. Tuition and the need to work while attending college are major factors.
  • Help with licensing. Teacher licensing exams have been shown to disproportionately screen out minorities. Tutoring and test preparation can help the candidates succeed.

More information

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) offers the Grow Your Own Grant Program to aid districts in increasing the pool and diversity of future classroom teachers. While the deadline has passed for the current cycle, this may be an option for districts to consider in the future.

More information and research can be found in the following:


Sarah James is the communications specialist at TASB HR Services. Send Sarah an email at sarah.james@tasb.org.


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Tagged: Diversity, Hiring, HR, Recruiting