How Can States Attract More High Achieving Minority Teachers? IERC at SIUE Releases Study on Teacher Supply Pipeline

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An Illinois Education Research Council (IERC) study released today focuses on the racial diversity and academic composition of Illinois’ teachers and the factors that influence the makeup of the state’s teacher corps.

An Illinois Education Research Council (IERC) study released today focuses on the racial diversity and academic composition of Illinois’ teachers and the factors that influence the makeup of the state’s teacher corps.

Bradford R. White and Eric J. Lichtenberger, both from the IERC, and Karen J. DeAngelis from the University of Rochester, collaborated on the study and found that several factors contribute to the composition of the state’s teacher corps.

“Research has found that academically skilled teachers have positive impacts on student achievement and racial/ethnic minority teachers have a positive impact on minority student outcomes,” White said. “As a result, there are currently numerous efforts underway to improve the selectivity and the diversity of the teaching force, both nationally and in Illinois.”

The study sites the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which calls for recruiting candidates that reflect the diversity of the nation’s students. CAEP proposes admission standards for teacher preparation programs to require entering candidates have an average achievement in the top one-third of a national assessment.

“Some evidence suggests that efforts to improve the academic skills of the overall teaching force can have a negative impact on teacher diversity, without a parallel commitment to maintaining such diversity,” White said. “Therefore, our goal in this study is to inform the design of policies and practices to improve the supply of academically skilled, diverse individuals into teaching.”

In order to do this, White notes the researchers conducting the study used a unique, longitudinal state database to track two Illinois high school cohorts from the classes of 2002 and 2003 through college and into the workforce. These students were tracked through five stages in the new teacher supply pipeline:

  •     College entry
  •     Enrollment in a four-year college
  •     Completion of a bachelor’s degree
  •     Achievement of teacher certification
  •     Employment as Illinois public school teachers

“We examine how each stage in this pipeline affects the composition of new entrants to K-12 public school teaching in Illinois, with particular attention to academic skills and racial/ethnic diversity; two characteristics of the teaching force that are at the forefront of local and national policy concerns,” White said.

The study found that only 3.2 percent of the Illinois public high school students studied became public school teachers by roughly a decade after completing high school.

Another important finding was that teachers from these cohorts were stronger academically, but less racially/ethnically diverse than their high school classmates who did not become teachers.

However, “those who obtained teaching certificates had notably weaker academic qualifications compared to other bachelor’s degree earners,” White noted. “But those who actually became teachers were quite similar academically to non-teaching college graduates.”

The study concluded that the transition from certification to employment was one of the most critical stages in the new teacher pipeline. The researchers were surprised to learn that although one in five bachelor’s degree recipients across all disciplines became certified to teach, less than half of all certified teachers gained employment as a classroom teacher.     

The IERC, established in 2000, provides Illinois with education research to support education policy making and program development for preschool through graduate school.

In accordance with its mission, the IERC undertakes independent research and policy analysis, which informs and strengthens Illinois’ commitment to providing a seamless system of educational opportunities for its citizens.

For more information about the IERC, and its research, policy work, and outreach visit http://www.siue.edu/ierc, follow the organization on Facebook and Twitter @IERC_SIUE, email ierc(at)siue(dot)edu, or call 618-650-2840, or toll-free, 866-799-4372.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provides students with a high quality, affordable education that prepares them for successful careers and lives of purpose. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education, and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottom land and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of nearly 14,000.

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