Teacher Preparation Opinion

Addressing the Diversity Imperative Through Colleges of Education

By Kera Tyler — May 10, 2016 2 min read
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For the month of May, Career Corner‘s posts will be contributed by The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. AACTE is lending its expertise to the blog as the leading voice on educator preparation through the eyes of the renowned Holmes Scholars Program. With 20+ years of promoting diversity in education through the inclusion of students from the most historically underrepresented backgrounds, the Holmes Scholars Program will share insights into increasing teacher diversity from preparation institution to the classroom.

Kera Tyler, Education Week TopSchoolJobs

There’s much discourse around the need for teacher diversity in the classroom. And rightly so: Although student diversity is at an all-time high, the teaching population is still predominantly white and female. But when students can identify with their teachers, evidence shows, they achieve more--and they are more likely to consider pursuing teaching careers themselves.

To address the challenge of attracting more diverse teachers into the profession, we need to look at strategies that have proven successful. At the same time, strengthening supports for those already in the pipeline plays an important role in retaining those we recruit. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) is working on several fronts to equip colleges of education nationwide with effective strategies for recruiting and supporting highly qualified students from historically underrepresented communities into the teaching workforce.

Through AACTE’s Holmes Program, for example, colleges are building a pipeline to recruit and support students from historically underrepresented backgrounds pursuing education careers, ranging from teaching to school leadership and through the professoriate. For more than 20 years, the Holmes Program has provided mentorship, peer support and professional development to its participants through a myriad of learning activities and resources.

Undergirding the Holmes Program is a unique and sustainable framework of supports. The program requires an institutional commitment to support high school, undergraduate, master’s-level, and/or doctoral students by designating a program coordinator to facilitate the completion of their pathway. An alumni association offers continual support for in-service educators to help retain them in the profession, and regular convenings and communications connect participants with another valuable resource: each other. AACTE’s Holmes Program has produced over 600 graduates who now serve in a variety of roles in the education industry--and many have contributed meaningful research related to expanding workforce diversity.

In addition, AACTE formed a networked improvement community (NIC) in 2014 aimed at increasing the number of Black and Latino male teacher candidates in teacher preparation programs. This initiative employs improvement science, a structured method to investigate and test approaches to solving the problem at hand: growing the pipeline of males from diverse backgrounds into the teaching profession and for a variety of high-need contexts, from urban and rural settings to areas dominated by homogeneous populations. The findings from this practitioner-led research will be released in a white paper later this year to more broadly inform the work of educator preparation programs.

For more information, visit aacte.org

Rodrick Lucero

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

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