Resource

RESEARCH SAYS THAT TEACHER DIVERSITY BENEFITS ALL STUDENTS, REGARDLESS OF RACE OR ETHNICITY. HOWEVER, WHILE THE MAJORITY OF STUDENTS IN THE U.S. ARE OF COLOR, ONLY ABOUT 20% OF TEACHERS ARE OF COLOR.
Increasing the racial and cultural diversity of the teacher workforce takes a statewide commitment to collecting and analyzing educator workforce data and leading targeted, data-informed efforts to develop policies that recruit, support, and retain a high-quality and diverse educator workforce. This brief is designed to support these efforts by providing data analyses and a landscape of policies and practices for advocates, educators, and policymakers leading this work at the state level.

Tennessee Demographic Data (2018-19)

Student Data Source: The Education Trust’s analysis of 2018-19 data retrieved from the state website.
Teacher Data Source: The Education Trust’s analysis of 2018-19 data receved from the SEA.

Race/ethnicity Students Teachers2
Asian 2.4% 0.4%
Black 23.7% 11.5%
Latino 10.9% 1.3%
Multiracial 0.0% 0.6%
American Indian / Alaska Native 0.4% 0.1%
Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander 0.2% 0.1%
White 62% 83.9%
Total Percentage of People of Color 37.6% 16.1%

1. The data was pulled from K-12 public schools in the state, 2. K-12 classroom teacher full-time equivalents, 3. People of color describes people who identify as
Asian, Black, Latino, multiracial, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander

Schools With No Teachers of Color 31.9%
Percentage of All Students in Schools with No Teachers of Color 23%

To examine whether students have access to diverse teachers in their schools, we analyzed school-level data on teacher and student race and ethnicity. The following describes state-level findings regarding students’ access to teachers of color and same-race teachers as well as the prevalence of teachers teaching in schools with no other same-race colleagues. For district-level data, please visit this state’s page at https://edtrust.org/educator-diversity/.

State Teacher Diversity Data
Asian Black Latino Multiracial American Indian/ Alaska Native Native Haw./ Pac. Islander White
Percent of students attending schools with no teachers of color * 4.6% 12.9% * * * 32.3%
Percent of students attending schools with no same-race teachers * 7.9% 45% * * * 0.0%
Percent of students attending schools with <5% same-race teachers * 79% 13.1% * * * 100%
Percent of teachers working in schools with no other same-race teacher 61.2% 3.2% 42.0% 64.2% 65.9% 67.6% 0.0%
*Too few students or teachers

Access to Non-Novice Teachers in Tennessee

Research shows students of color and students from low-income backgrounds are more likely to attend schools with greater numbers of novice teachers than their peers. While new teachers bring energy and passion into their classrooms and schools, teachers face a steep learning curve in their first few years of teaching. Schools with high turnover and a “revolving door” of new teachers can deeply affect student learning.

Here is the state of Black and Latino student access to non-novice and certified teachers in Tennessee:

Disparities between schools serving the most and fewest Black students
Schools Serving the Most Black Students Schools Serving the Fewest Black Students
Percent Novice Teachers 18% 11%
Percent First-Year Teachers 10% 7%

 

Disparities between schools serving the most and fewest Latino students
Schools Serving the Most Latino Students Schools Serving the Fewest Latino Students
Percent Novice Teachers 14% 10%
Percent First-Year Teachers 7% 5%

 

Disparities between Black and Non-Black Students
 Black Students Non-Black Students
Percent of Students in schools with High (>20%) percentages of Novice Teachers 26% 10%
Percent of Students in schools with High (>20%) percentages of Uncertified Teachers 32% 13%

 

Disparities between Latino and Non-Latino Students
Latino Students Non-Latino Students
Percent of Students in schools with High (>20%) percentages of Novice Teachers 18% 13%
Percent of Students in schools with High (>20%) percentages of Uncertified Teachers 5% 4%

To move from highlighting these inequities to proactively addressing them, see the Roadmap for State Success in our reports Getting Black Students Access to Non-Novice and Certified Teachers and Getting Latino Students Access to Non-Novice and  Certified Teachers

Policy Scan

To increase the racial diversity of the educator workforce, states must create the right policy conditions to support educator preparation programs, districts, and schools in their efforts to prepare, recruit, and retain teachers of color. The following describes the state’s progress toward creating those policy conditions:

RATING SCALE

Meets Criteria
Partially Meets Criteria
Does Not Meet Criteria

Goals

  1. Make educator diversity data visible and actionable to stakeholders
  2. Set clear goals at the state and district level to increase student access to diverse educators
  3. Invest in educator preparation programs to increase enrollment and improve the preparation of teachers of color
  4. Target resources to districts and schools to support efforts that intentionally recruit and hire a diverse teaching workforce
  5. Invest in efforts to retain teachers of color that improve working conditions and provide opportunities for personal and professional growth
  6. Use federal COVID-related relief funds to invest in strategies that increase the racial diversity of the educator workforce
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS

1: Make Educator Diversity Data Visible and Actionable to Stakeholders

For states to make progress toward increasing the racial diversity of the educator workforce, all stakeholders must have access to useful and timely educator workforce data to set goals and chart a path forward. As keepers of state data systems, state education agencies are best positioned to collect and share this data, which should be publicly available and easily accessible so stakeholders can make targeted, strategic workforce decisions at the school, district, and state level.

For data to be meaningful, states must:

Criteria
MEETS SOME OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Share annual school-level information about the racial demographics of the educator workforce, including online in a dashboard, school report cards, or a state-developed report on the diversity of the educator workforce
State Actions

Tennessee posts district-level data on the racial demographics of the educator workforce on the state website.

However, the state should include school-level data on the racial demographics of the educator workforce on its site and should make it easier to interpret. For an example, see Massachusetts’ data  dashboard.

Rating Methodology:

Publicly available school-level data about the racial demographics of the teacher workforce included in a dashboard, report card, or report on the state of the teacher workforce
Publicly available district-level information about the racial demographics of the teacher workforce included in a dashboard, report card, or report on the state of teacher workforce
State-level information or no publicly available data on the racial demographics of the educator workforce
Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Share the racial makeup of candidates attending in-state teacher preparation programs annually, included online in a dashboard, school report cards, or a state-developed report on the diversity of the educator workforce
State Actions

Tennessee posts program-level data on the racial makeup of candidates entering in-state teacher preparation programs on the state website.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category. For another example of a state that earned a green, see Illinois’ Annual Program Reporting system.

Rating Methodology:

Publicly available data on the racial makeup of candidates completing in-state teacher preparation programs by program-level each year, located through a state report or program report cards on the state-led website
Publicly available data on website with state-level diversity of candidates completing teacher preparation programs
Racial makeup of program completers at in-state teacher preparation programs not publicly available at all
Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Share the racial makeup of candidates completing in-state teacher preparation programs annually, included online in a dashboard, school report cards, or a state-developed report on the diversity of the educator workforce
State Actions

Tennessee posts program-level data on the racial makeup of candidates that complete in-state teacher preparation programs on the state website.

The state earned a green and is rated as a best practice in this category.

Rating Methodology:

Publicly available data on the racial makeup of candidates completing in-state teacher preparation programs by program-level each year, located through a state report or program report cards on the state-led website
Publicly available data on website with state-level diversity of candidates completing teacher preparation programs
Racial makeup of program completers at in-state teacher preparation programs not publicly available
Criteria
MEETS SOME OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Publicly available persistence data disaggregated by race/ethnicity on teachers who remain in the profession
State Actions

Tennessee posts state-level data on the retention rates of educators of color on the state website.

However, the state should include data on the retention rates of educators of color through a dashboard, on individual school reports cards, or through a state-developed report that analyzes the retention rates of educators of color. For an example, see Delaware’s educator  mobility data dashboard.

Rating Methodology:

Publicly available retention or turnover data disaggregated by race/ethnicity at the school-level
Publicly available retention or turnover data disaggregated by race/ethnicity at the state or district-level
No data available on retention or turnover by race/ethnicity
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS

2: Set clear goals at the state and district level to increase student access to diverse educators

Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Set a clear, numeric goal for increasing the racial diversity of the educator workforce that is measurable, publicly available, and includes a goal that is limited in time (e.g., within five years).
State Actions

Tennessee publicly set goals through CCSSO’s Diverse and Learner Ready Teachers Initiative. Also, in accordance with state law (T.C.A.§ 49-1-302(i)), the Tennessee Department of Education recommends that school boards and local school districts establish reasonable, incremental goals for recruitment, employment and retention of teachers of color.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category. For another example of a state that earned a green, see Arkansas’ goal to increase the number of teachers of color in public schools by 25%.

Rating Methodology:

Has clear, numeric goal for increasing the racial diversity of the educator workforce that is measurable, publicly available, and includes a goal that is limited in time (e.g., increasing percentage of teachers of color by 25% in five years)
Has publicly stated a goal or desire to increase the diversity of the workforce, but the goal is not numeric, measurable, nor includes a goal that is limited in time
Has no publicly stated goal for increasing teacher diversity
Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Offer opportunities to local stakeholders to provide input on and support for the goals
State Actions

Tennessee conducted extensive stakeholder engagement to pass the Educator Diversity Policy in 2021. The state met with the Tennessee Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA), Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance, EdTrust – Tennessee, The Educator Diversity Advocacy Council, and the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) among others.

Therefore, the state received a green in this category.

Rating Methodology:

Makes an intentional effort to engage local stakeholders to provide input and support on educator diversity goals including through stakeholder forums, listening tours, and meetings with key education advocacy groups
Offers public comment on legislation or policy changes related to efforts to increase the racial diversity of the educator workforce
Does not provide opportunities to local stakeholders to provide input and support for the goals
Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Provide funding and guidance for districts and/ or educator preparation programs to set goals and invest in strategies to increase the racial diversity of their educator populations
State Actions

Tennessee provided multiple funding opportunities and guidance for preparation programs and districts to diversify the educator workforce, including a $50,000 grant to a preparation program to design strategies that support the development of a diverse educator workforce, funded five districts to develop plans through Title II, part A to increase the racial diversity of the workforce, and funded three districts with greatest needs through Title II, part A to implement comprehensive strategies to increase the number of educators of color through Grow Your Own programs; additionally, through the Teacher and Administrator Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Tennessee Report, state leaders convened interested districts to support strategic efforts to diversify the workforce.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category. For another example of a state that earned a green, see New Jersey’s Diversifying the Teacher Pipeline Competitive Grant Program for educator preparation programs that expand and develop plans to recruit and prepare more educators of color to meet the needs of partnering local education agencies.

Rating Methodology:

Provided guidance and funding in the last five years for districts and/or preparation programs to set goals and invest in strategies to increase the racial diversity of the workforce
Provided guidance to districts and/or preparation programs in the last five years for setting goals and investing in strategies to increase the racial diversity of the workforce, but does not provide funding
No guidance or funding for districts and/or preparation programs to set goals and invest in strategies to increase the racial diversity of the workforce
Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Develop a task force, advisory group, or role within the state education agency with access to leadership to examine, create, and monitor strategies to increase the racial diversity of the educator workforce
State Actions

Tennessee has a state lead of the Diverse and Learner Ready Teachers Initiative to carry on state’s goals to increase the racial diversity of the workforce.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category. For another example of a state that earned a green, see Ohio’s Diversifying the Education Profession in Ohio Taskforce brief from fall 2018.

Rating Methodology:

Publicly shared information about a task force or advisory group that created a report or brief that includes data and recommendations to increase the racial diversity of the workforce at the state-level
Publicly announced the formation of a group to examine or support educator diversity efforts at the state-level with no evidence of products that include data, recommendations, or state-level actions to address the racial diversity of the workforce
No publicly announced group to examine educator diversity
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS

3: Invest in educator preparation programs to increase enrollment and improve the preparation of teachers of color

States must invest in multiple inputs toward building an educator pipeline to increase the racial diversity of the workforce, starting with the preparation of educators of color. The state must create opportunities for educators of color to enroll and succeed in preparation programs and limit unnecessary barriers to the profession.

To support the preparation of teachers of color, the state must:

Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Invest in scholarship and loan forgiveness programs to attract students of color into preparation programs and the teaching profession
State Actions

Tennessee invests in loan-forgiveness programs and the Minority Teaching Fellows Program which awards $5,000 per year for students of color who pursue a teacher certification at an eligible Tennessee college or university. The state also invested in the I-TEACH program granted through the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to support 12 teacher candidates over two years.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category. For another example of a state that earned a green, see Florida’s Minority Teacher Education Scholars Program.

Rating Methodology:

Investment in scholarship and/or loan forgiveness programs with the focus of attracting candidates of color and diversifying the educator workforce
Investment in scholarship and/or loan forgiveness programs that help attract all candidates to the profession but does not prioritize candidates of color
No investment in scholarship and loan forgiveness programs to recruit future candidates
Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Adopt rigorous program approval standards to compel teacher preparation programs to recruit and graduate candidates of color
State Actions

Tennessee includes standards for graduating candidates of color and an indicator for recruiting a more diverse teacher population in their educator preparation report cards.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category. For another example of a state that earned a green, see Alabama’s program approval standards .

Rating Methodology:

Program approval standard requires programs to report plans or efforts to recruit and/or support candidates of color
Programs are required to share data on specific outcomes related to graduating and enrolling candidates of color but no requirement to share plans or efforts to intentionally recruit or graduate candidates of color
No mention of recruiting or graduating candidates of color from preparation programs
Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Interrogate licensure policies for racial bias and adopt licensure policies that increase diversity while maintaining quality and rigor
State Actions

Tennessee specifically offered assessment alternatives that are oral-based for native language speakers of foreign languages. The state also eliminated the need to take the Praxis to come into the state which eliminates a significant financial barrier, and completed a first read and will have a second and final read in November 2020 to create a new math endorsement because the passing score for the Praxis in Secondary Math is high thus preventing well-qualified individuals from teaching algebra and geometry because of missing questions about calculus and trigonometry.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category.

Rating Methodology:

Took concrete actions to change licensure policies to increase diversity, including eliminating assessments or other burdensome licensure requirements that disproportionally affect candidates of color
Stated the priority to interrogate licensure policies and took one or more the following actions: 1) Statutory mandates to report and continuously monitor trends on passage rates and how policies impact candidates of color; 2) Convened a set of practitioners to interrogate licensure policies for ethno-racial bias and issued recommendations for state action to remedy bias
No efforts to interrogate licensure policies for racial bias or adopt licensure policies that increase diversity while maintaining quality and rigor
Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Invest in preparation programs that prepare a high number of teachers of color, including minority serving institutions
State Actions

Tennessee partners with Tennessee State University, an historically Black university, on district-prep partnerships in 11 districts across the state to develop Grow Your Own programs . The state also awarded the university with three grants worth $125K for to support candidates to receive a Special Education Endorsement to teach in schools in Tennessee.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category. For another example of a state that earned a green, see Virginia’s increased investment in local Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that prepare teachers of color to work in STEM fields.

Rating Methodology:

Investment in minority-serving institutions (MSIs) or programs that recruit and support candidates of color through grants or other funding sources dedicated to replicating and expanding their success in attracting and preparing candidates of color and diversifying the educator workforce
Guidance or recommendation to recruit from or develop partnerships with minority-serving institutions
No intentional investment in MSIs or programs that prepare a disproportionate number of candidates of color
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS

4: Target resources to districts and schools to support efforts to intentionally recruit and hire a diverse teaching workforce

Many districts and schools across the country struggle to recruit and hire a more diverse teaching workforce using traditional methods. States play an important role in targeting resources toward these districts and schools to help develop initiatives that increase the racial diversity of the workforce.

Research-based strategies that states should take to target resources toward these districts and schools include:

Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Providing funding, guidance, and public support for Grow Your Own (GYO) programs that attract candidates of color
State Actions

Tennessee developed a competitive grant program in 2019 for Grow Your Own Programs and launched a competitive grant program in September 2020 with CARES Act funding to provide 20 partnerships with $100K to support expanding or forming Grow Your Own programming.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category. For another example of a state that earned a green, see Texas’ Grow Your Own grant program .

Rating Methodology:

Includes developing and expanding GYO programming as a priority through a change to state education agency or state-level legislation, funds GYO programming from the state level, and provides state-led guidance on developing GYO programming
Positive policy conditions to encourage districts/preparation programs to develop GYO programming (e.g., providing scholarships or stipends to paraprofessionals to complete licensure requirements to become teachers); or provides guidance or encouragement through their SEA website to create GYO programs
No state support for GYO programs
Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Investing in and providing guidance on cultural competence and anti-bias trainings and resources for hiring managers
State Actions

Tennessee partnered with the Department of Human Resources to offer trainings on Unconscious Bias and Understanding and Embracing Diversity for all state employees, not just hiring managers in the state.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category.

Rating Methodology:

Provides professional develop and training on cultural competence and/or anti-bias practices for hiring managers at the state level to increase the racial diversity of the workforce
Provides resources for hiring managers at the state and district level to help increase the racial diversity of the workforce
No evidence of investment in resources or trainings on cultural competence and/or anti-bias practices for hiring managers at the state level to increase the racial diversity of the workforce
Criteria
MEETS ONE OR NO REQUIREMENTS
Investment in teacher academies and dual-enrollment programming to promote the teaching profession to a racially diverse group of students
State Actions

Tennessee does not invest in teacher academies or dual-enrollment programming to promote the teaching profession to a racially diverse set of students.

The state should invest in teacher academies or dual-enrollment program with the focus of attracting candidates of color and diversifying the educator workforce. For an example, see Oregon’s Minority Educator Pipeline Models Grant which provides funds to school districts and postsecondary institutions to create collaborative processes, including a high school cadet program to recruit future educators who are culturally and linguistically diverse.

Rating Methodology:

Investment in teacher academies and dual-enrollment programming with the focus on attracting candidates of color and diversifying the educator workforce
Investment in teacher academies and/or dual-enrollment programming that help all candidates to the profession but does not prioritize candidates of color
No investment in teacher academies and dual-enrollment programming to recruit future candidates
Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Investing in partnerships between districts and teacher preparation programs, particularly programs with a diverse candidate population, to ensure targeted hiring
State Actions

Tennessee provided grants for partnerships between prep programs and districts to ensure targeted hiring.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category. For another example of a state that earned a green, see Massachusetts’  investment in diversifying the superintendent pipeline.

Rating Methodology:

Investment in partnerships between districts and teacher preparation programs, particularly minority-serving institutions, with the focus of attracting candidates of color and diversify the educator workforce
Investment in partnerships between districts and teacher preparation programs that help attract all candidates to the profession but does not prioritize candidates of color
No investment in partnerships between districts and teacher preparation programs to recruit future candidates
Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Investing in diversifying the educator workforce in areas that influence hiring and recruitment decisions, including the education leaders at teacher preparation programs, district leadership, and school leadership
State Actions

Tennessee invested in the Diverse Leaders Network (within the Aspiring Administrators Academy) to support educators of color to acquire an administrator license and certification. There are currently 20 spots for 2021.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category. For another example of a state that earned a green, see Massachusetts’  investment in diversifying the superintendent pipeline.

Rating Methodology:

Investment in programming that increases the diversity in faculty in teacher preparation programs, district leadership, school leadership, or other areas that influence hiring and recruitment decisions
Yellow: Commitment to the diversity of the educator workforce in areas that influence hiring and recruitment decisions including requiring programs and districts to report on efforts to increase the diversity of their workforces in these areas
No evidence of programming or support in this space
SHOWS IMPROVEMENT

5: Invest in efforts to retain teachers of color including improving working conditions and providing opportunities for personal and professional growth for teachers of color

While many states have invested heavily in efforts to recruit teachers of color, these efforts are compromised when districts and schools have difficulty retaining teachers of color. States can improve retention of teachers of color by investing in programming that provides ongoing support and growth opportunities and improves poor working conditions that disproportionately affect teachers of color.

Strategies that states should take to retain teachers of color include:

Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Investing in high-retention pathways to teaching, including residency models and alternative certification programs that traditionally support and develop teachers of color
State Actions

Tennessee has a state board policy that requires candidates complete one of the following four types of clinical practice requirements in order to complete an educator preparation program: 1) student teaching, 2) internship, 3) job-embedded, or 4) instructional leader internship. The internship clinical practice must be for one year, of which at least 100 days include direct teaching experiences. In addition, through a competitive grant process, the department of education awarded grant dollars through the New Teacher Residency Program to Vanderbilt University Peabody College to develop a two-part residency program.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category. For another example of a state that earned a green, see California’s investment in residency programs to recruit, develop support systems for, provide outreach and communication strategies to, and retain a diverse teacher workforce.

Rating Methodology:

State investment in residency programming including financial investment in programs at the preparation level; investment in alternative certification programming to recruit and support teachers of color
Flexible licensure requirements that provide the opportunity for alternative certification programs to recruit and prepare candidates of color or candidates from non-traditional pathways; guidance for running residency programs; and/or public support for residency programs locally
No investment or policy support for residency programming or alternative certification programming
Criteria
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Investing in opportunities for teachers of color to grow and develop in their abilities and their qualification for leadership roles, including targeted professional development, cohort models, and continuing education opportunities
State Actions

Tennessee invested in the Diverse Leaders Network (within the Aspiring Administrators Academy) to support educators of color to acquire an administrator license and certification. There are currently 20 spots for 2021.

Therefore, the state earned a green in this category. For another example of a state that earned a green, see Massachusetts’ investment in diversifying the superintendent pipeline .

Rating Methodology:

Professional development opportunities for teachers of color to grow leadership abilities and investing in pathways to leadership opportunities for teachers of color
Teacher leadership opportunities and/or opportunities to develop leadership qualities for all teachers but none that target or prioritize teachers of color
No targeted leadership development opportunities
Criteria
MEETS SOME OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Investing in induction and mentoring programs that provide support to teachers of color early in their careers
State Actions

Tennessee requires districts and schools to include strategies for improving on weaknesses in their school improvement plans and lists developing teacher induction programs as a strategy a school or district may adopt. State regulation also establishes that license applicants must be provided with a mentor teacher during their first year of teaching.

However, the state should invest in an induction and mentoring program that provides at least two years of support for new teachers. For an example, see Minnesota’s $6 million investment in 2022 and 2023 for districts to develop mentorship programs that prioritize teachers of color.

Rating Methodology:

Professional development opportunities for teachers of color to grow leadership abilities and investing in pathways to leadership opportunities for teachers of color
Teacher leadership opportunities and/or opportunities to develop leadership qualities for all teachers but none that target or prioritize teachers of color
No targeted leadership development opportunities
Criteria
MEETS SOME OF THE REQUIREMENTS
Investing in and providing guidance on cultural competence and anti-bias professional learning opportunities for school and district leaders
State Actions

Tennessee partnered with the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance (TECA) and the Tennessee Education Research Alliance (TERA) on educator diversity research and was part of a tour presenting these findings to educators across the state. The main topic was Improving Educator Diversity Across Tennessee: How We Can Better Recruit, Retain, and Support Teachers of Color with TECA and TERA both presenting their individual research. Along with the statewide tour, Tennessee presented on the same topic at the annual LEAD conference attended by thousands of educators, supervisor, principals and superintendents every year.

The state also worked to connect the HR Directors Association directly with TECA to support their efforts to increase the racial diversity of the workforce. The state has been able to work with the HR Directors Association to host a session at their upcoming annual conference led by TECA. Tennessee also includes guidance on creating culturally responsive school settings for school and district leaders through their  Equity Playbook.

Therefore, the state earned a yellow in this category

Rating Methodology:

State-led professional learning sessions for district and school leaders
Guidance on ways to ensure cultural competence for district and school leaders
No evidence of programming or support in this space

6: Use federal COVID-related relief funds to invest in strategies to increase the racial diversity of the educator workforce.

Through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the federal government has invested $190 billion to support state and local efforts to provide high-quality instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of this money can — and should — be utilized to fund efforts to increase the racial diversity of the educator workforce through short- and long-term solutions. Each state submitted an ARP plan to invest funding to address several issues, including building strong and diverse workforces, and many states have used ESSER funds and other federal sources to invest in strategies to increase the diversity of the workforce. The information below represents the state’s effort to invest in teacher diversity strategies since March 2021:

State Actions

State ARP Plan:

In the Tennessee state ARP plan the SEA wrote that it added alternative assessment options for educators in shortage areas. It has also supported LEAs to expand their pipelines by putting forth an opportunity for LEAs to become EPPs. In addition, the state has supported expanding the pipelines of educators while also diversifying the profession with its Grow Your Own (GYO) program.

Investments to Date

Tennessee used $2 million in ESSER I funding for “Grow Your  Own” grants.

Other Federal Investments to Note: 

TAPPING INTO THE AFTER-SCHOOL PIPELINE

One underutilized strategy for increasing the racial diversity of the teacher workforce is to recruit and prepare those who have experience working in after-school or out-of-school time (OST) programs to enter the teaching profession. State policymakers can adopt policies to build this potentially high-leverage pipeline of teachers of color into the profession. To do so effectively, they must not only increase targeted recruitment of after-school/OST staff but also structure programming to draw upon this group’s experiences while they’re enrolled in preparation programs.

Here are three ways to build an after-school pipeline:

1. Allocate resources to establish and strengthen recruitment relationships between nontraditional teacher preparation programs and after-school/OST service providers.

State Actions:

MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS

Provide funding, guidance, and support for Grow Your Own (GYO) programs, which traditionally attract candidates of color

  • Tennessee developed a competitive grant program in 2019 for Grow Your Own Programs and launched a competitive grant program in September 2020 with CARES Act funding to provide 20 partnerships with $100K to support expanding or forming Grow Your Own programming.
MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS

Investment in partnerships between districts and teacher preparation programs, particularly minority serving institutions, to ensure targeted hiring

2. Increase investments in scholarships, loan forgiveness opportunities, and tuition reimbursements for teacher candidates with after-school/OST experience, with a particular focus on candidates of color and participants in
GYO programs.

State Actions:

MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS

Investment in scholarship and loan forgiveness programs to attract students of color into teacher preparation programs

  • Tennessee invests in loan forgiveness programs and the Minority Teaching Fellows Program which awards $5000 per year for students of color who pursue a teacher certification at an eligible Tennessee college or university. The state also invested in the I-TEACH program granted through the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to support 12 teacher candidates over two years.

3. Adopt statewide guidelines and invest in supports for nontraditional teacher preparation pathways that 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.

State Actions:

MEETS ALL OR MOST OF THE REQUIREMENTS

Adopted rigorous program approval standards for teacher preparation programs to recruit and graduate candidates

  • Tennessee includes standards for graduating candidates of color and an indicator for recruiting a more diverse teacher population in their educator preparation report cards.