Excellent teachers and leaders for every child

Every stu­dent deserves pas­sion­ate and high­ly effec­tive teach­ers and lead­ers through­out their edu­ca­tion­al careers. There­fore it is crit­i­cal to devel­op a pipeline of well-trained, high­ly com­pen­sat­ed, and appro­pri­ate­ly sup­port­ed edu­ca­tors who reflect the stu­dent com­mu­ni­ties they serve.

Our recommendations

 Recruit and retain a racial­ly and eth­ni­cal­ly diverse teacher work­force
Increase access to high­ly effec­tive edu­ca­tors for his­tor­i­cal­ly under­served stu­dents

Call For Proposals

Do you have an inno­v­a­tive project or ini­tia­tive that address­es the chal­lenges in Ten­nessee of teacher recruit­ment, reten­tion and effec­tive­ness? The Ten­nessee Edu­ca­tion­al Equi­ty Coali­tion awards grants every year, of up to $40,000, to fund activ­i­ties that address the­se crit­i­cal needs in our state.

Approx­i­mate­ly 83 per­cent of teach­ers nation­al­ly are white, and, in Ten­nessee, approx­i­mate­ly 82 per­cent of prin­ci­pals and 87 per­cent of teach­ers are white. By 2024, stu­dents of col­or are expect­ed to make up approx­i­mate­ly 56 per­cent of the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion nation­al­ly, and in Ten­nessee, by 2060, stu­dents of col­or are expect­ed to make up  approx­i­mate­ly 40 per­cent of the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion. Clear­ly large gaps per­sist in Ten­nessee between teacher and stu­dent demo­graph­ics. There is also a large oppor­tu­ni­ty and access gap that per­sists through­out the edu­ca­tor pipeline as black and brown teacher and lead­er can­di­dates rep­re­sent less than 15 per­cent of those roles.

In Ten­nessee, the num­ber of white teacher can­di­dates enrolled in insti­tu­tions of high­er edu­ca­tion has per­sis­tent­ly hov­ered around eighty per­cent, and in 2017, was approx­i­mate­ly 85 per­cent. Teacher can­di­dates of col­or tend to decrease along the pipeline at key points due to dif­fer­ent bar­ri­ers and access issues. Stu­dents of col­or enrolled in K-12 are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly and his­tor­i­cal­ly under­served aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly and have their edu­ca­tion­al process­es inter­rupt­ed by exclu­sion­ary dis­ci­pline. This man­i­fests itself through­out the post­sec­ondary pipeline. Teach­ers and lead­ers of col­or tend to leak from the pipeline dur­ing the fol­low­ing five key points: (1) post­sec­ondary enroll­ment; (2) enroll­ment in edu­ca­tion pro­grams; (3) post­sec­ondary com­ple­tion; (4) enter­ing the work­force; and (5) teacher reten­tion. Edu­ca­tor prepa­ra­tion pro­grams (EPP) must focus on keep­ing stu­dents of col­or in the pipeline in order to sta­bi­lize and increase the num­ber of teach­ers of col­or in the work­force.

Teach­ers of col­or are also recruit­ed and hired at low­er rates than their white peers. This is due in part to the min­i­mal pool of can­di­dates, but also due to neg­a­tive sig­nals employ­ers receive from inequitable screen­ing tools like Prax­is scores. Teach­ers of col­or are also dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly placed in high-needs, high-pover­ty dis­tricts where they are sub­ject to neg­a­tive work­ing con­di­tions, includ­ing: lack of admin­is­tra­tive sup­port, feel­ings of iso­la­tion, and low pay.

Neg­a­tive work­ing con­di­tions is one of the rea­sons that teach­ers of col­or are more like­ly to be tran­sient, bounc­ing from school to school with­in dis­tricts. This tran­sience makes prac­tices tar­get­ed at reten­tion more impor­tant than ever. One way for dis­tricts to retain teach­ers of col­or is to gear induc­tion pro­grams toward new teach­ers of col­or and to offer con­tin­u­ous and dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment and learn­ing expe­ri­ences to meet their speci­fic needs. Pro­fes­sion­al learn­ing com­mu­ni­ties and affin­i­ty spaces are imper­a­tive to retain­ing teach­ers of col­or and build­ing a sus­tain­able pipeline to instruc­tion­al lead­er­ship posi­tions. With­out retain­ing teach­ers of col­ors, cre­at­ing more diver­si­ty with­in the prin­ci­pal pipeline is a chal­lenge because the major­i­ty of prin­ci­pals are drawn from pools of teach­ers.

Stu­dents housed in the nation’s high­est-pover­ty schools face chal­lenges their peers do not. They are four times more like­ly to be taught by an uncer­ti­fied teacher, and approx­i­mate­ly 1.7 times more like­ly to be taught by a novice teacher. Dur­ing the 2014–15 school year, 13 per­cent of Tennessee’s novice teach­ers received an over­all effec­tive­ness score of a one or a two. Low-income schools in Ten­nessee are also the most dif­fi­cult to staff for high demand sub­jects like ESL, world lan­guages, sci­ence, spe­cial edu­ca­tion and math. Edu­ca­tor prepa­ra­tion pro­grams and dis­tricts play an impor­tant role in prepar­ing effec­tive teach­ers to suc­ceed in the class­room, and in pro­vid­ing enough teach­ers for the avail­able jobs in Ten­nessee dis­tricts.

EPPs should start by focus­ing on strate­gi­cal­ly plac­ing can­di­dates into diverse schools dur­ing their clin­i­cal expe­ri­ences so that can­di­dates are more com­fort­able con­sid­er­ing a sim­i­lar school envi­ron­ments when seek­ing jobs. Addi­tion­al­ly, school lead­ers should iden­ti­fy high-qual­i­ty men­tor teach­ers to coach teacher can­di­dates. High-qual­i­ty men­tors are essen­tial to devel­op­ing strong can­di­dates that are ready to enter into the class­room and lead stu­dents to dra­mat­ic gains in aca­d­e­mic achieve­ment. Teach­ers who are iden­ti­fied as men­tors should be offered ongo­ing train­ing and coach­ing from dis­trict and school lead­ers on how to men­tor, as well as, have a stan­dard­ized state cur­ricu­lum to ensure the qual­i­ty of men­tors is con­sis­tent from region to region. In addi­tion to sup­ports, dis­tricts must com­pen­sate men­tors for tak­ing on mentees.

The Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion has rec­om­mend­ed that EPPs must be more inten­tion­al and strate­gic about direct­ing hir­ing for com­pleters. In the same vein, dis­tricts must be more dili­gent and inten­tion­al about recruit­ing diverse teacher can­di­dates from through­out the state. EPPs and school dis­tricts can also work togeth­er to incen­tivize teacher can­di­dates to pur­sue teach­ing in high-needs com­mu­ni­ties through hous­ing assis­tance pro­grams or offer­ing loan for­give­ness.