School Leaders: Do You Truly Want to Diversify Your Teaching Workforce?
Recruit and Support After-School and Out-of-School-Time Workers in Teacher Preparation Programs. They are an “untapped resource,” according to Ed Trust. A new report provides tangible action steps for programs, states seeking to diversify the teaching workforce amidst a teacher shortage
(WASHINGTON) – As districts around the country struggle with teacher shortages and many state leaders work to increase diversity in the educator workforce, a new study from The Education Trust explores how to better support after-school and out-of-school-time workers of color on their paths to teaching.
In A Natural Fit: Supporting After-School Staff of Color in Teacher Pipelines, Ed Trust examines the experiences of after-school and out-of-school-time workers of color in seven nontraditional teacher preparation programs. The report spotlights specific programmatic approaches and identifies promising practices, while also exploring the ways recruitment, outreach, and inclusion efforts can be strengthened for after-school/out-of-school-time workers in the teacher pipeline.
“The research is clear on the social-emotional benefits and academic gains all students make when taught by teachers of color — and the transformative impact these teachers can make for students of color,” said Eric Duncan, senior P-12 data and policy analyst at Ed Trust. “After-school and out-of-school time workers are a diverse and hugely untapped resource that states and teacher preparation programs should be explicitly and enthusiastically recruiting and supporting.”
Many current and former after-school/out-of-school-time workers seeking to become teachers enroll in nontraditional teaching credential programs. However, very few programs focus explicitly on this population as they recruit students, and little data exists on how they fare once enrolled. This is a missed opportunity, the report finds, as after-school/out-of-school-time employees are a racially and ethnically diverse workforce who have experience leading groups of young people, bring essential skills in building relationships with students and families, and foster positive classroom communities.
The report also finds that programs recognizing these assets are implementing several promising practices, including:
- Reducing structural barriers to teacher credentialing by providing test preparation and aligning customized financial supports
- Partnering with schools, districts, and universities to deliver instruction
- Connecting participants with future jobs, and offering mentorship and coaching
“After-school educators are a diverse, motivated, creative, and talented group of caring individuals in students’ lives,” said Jillian Luchner, policy manager at The Afterschool Alliance. “This report recognizes the strengths after-school professionals, especially educators of color, bring to the classroom while surfacing barriers to entry into the teaching profession. Its final recommendations will diversify the teacher workforce we know our students and families need.”
As state leaders grapple with significant teacher shortages, new teachers who were previously after-school/out-of-school-time workers are in high demand. The study finds that schools and districts actively seek out these new teachers as their skills and dedication to the education field are evident, particularly if they have already worked in their schools and know the local communities. “Working in those after-school programs helped me from the personal and social-emotional aspect of relating with students, and then [the preparation program] gave me a lot of the skills for the technical, like, this is what it actually means to make a curriculum, make it rigorous.” said one study participant.
Ed Trust’s report outlines the ways that states, which oversee teacher credentialing programs, can support these workers becoming teachers:
- Allocate resources to establish and strengthen recruitment relationships between nontraditional teacher preparation pathways and after-school/out-of-school-time service providers.
- Increase investments in scholarships, loan forgiveness opportunities, and tuition reimbursements for teacher candidates with after-school/out-of-school-time experience, with a particular focus on candidates of color and participants in Grow Your Own programs.
- Adopt statewide guidelines and invest in support for nontraditional teacher preparation pathways to include teacher licensure test preparation, and at least one year of mentor-teacher support and coaching before participants enter the classroom as teachers of record.
- Develop guidance on effective programming and practices, based on nontraditional teacher preparation pathways that successfully attract and support after-school/out-of-school-time staff of color.
- Include after-school/out-of-school-time candidates in the “paraprofessional” category when defining participants who are eligible for state-led support to obtain teaching certification.
- Fund retention supports for alumni of nontraditional teacher preparation pathways, including efforts to create and sustain affinity groups and professional learning opportunities.
- Require nontraditional teacher preparation pathways to track and report on individuals with after-school/out-of-school-time work experience as a differentiated group to begin developing evidence-based on this underexplored population of teacher trainees, thereby learning how else they can be supported journey to become teachers.
“Through experience in working in after-school/out-of-school-time programs and in teacher preparation, these teacher candidates have developed a strong commitment to teaching in the communities where they grew up, and to working with students of color,” said Wing Yi Chan, Ph.D., director of P-12 Research at The Education Trust. “They are an untapped resource. With the right supports in place, they could be the key to having a high-quality and diverse workforce.”