Research suggests there are tangible benefits from a more racially and ethnically diverse teacher workforce for the growing number of students of color in America’s public schools.
District and school leaders seem aware of those benefits. New EdWeek Research Center survey data shows how they plan to go about boosting the diversity of their teaching corps.
In a nationally representative October online survey, 1,509 educators—including 254 district leaders, 110 school principals, and 1,145 teachers—were asked how important they believe it is to have a racially or ethnically diverse teacher workforce in their district or school.
A large majority, or 84 percent, said it was at least somewhat important, with 16 percent saying otherwise.
In a January survey for EdRecruiter, conducted by the EdWeek Research Center, 403 recruiters from traditional public schools, charters, and private/parochial schools across the country were asked how race and ethnicity factored into districts’ hiring processes.
Forty-seven percent said that while they try to find racially and ethnically diverse candidates, they don’t get enough applicants regardless of what they do. Yet only 20 percent said they take concrete steps to ensure that candidates for jobs are racially and ethnically diverse.
In the new October survey, district leaders and school principals were asked about the major challenges involved with recruiting a racially or ethnically diverse staff.
The top two challenges these leaders identified were too few diverse candidates (53 percent) and trouble getting anyone at all to apply for their available jobs (44 percent).
Recognizing that there have been staffing challenges overall across the country in the last two years, district leaders and principals were asked what, if any, changes their district or school had made to teacher compensation and/or benefits to address those challenges.
Seventy nine percent said they increased salaries. The next four popular options included introducing or improving mentorship programs, offering or increasing retention bonuses, offering or increasing pay/bonuses for working in hard-to-fill positions, and offering or increasing hiring bonuses.
However, even as district and school leaders look to more pay as the solution for recruiting more teachers and administrators of color, when these leaders and teachers themselves were asked whether higher pay would attract a more racially and ethnically diverse teaching staff to their district or school, 60 percent of respondents said no.
While higher teacher pay is typically at the forefront of strategies for recruiting and retaining teachers of color, some researchers point to other factors that work in tandem with more pay, including more professional support.
Coverage of strategies for advancing the opportunities for students most in need, including those from low-income families and communities, is supported by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, at www.waltonk12.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.
A version of this article appeared in the December 13, 2023 edition of Education Week as Districts’ Strategies to Diversify Teaching Staff, in Charts