The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Educator Workforce Diversity

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner
May 10, 2019

This memorandum updates the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) on current initiatives led by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) to diversify the educator workforce in the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts Context

As a result of the Education Reform Act of 1993 and the commitment of educators across the Commonwealth, Massachusetts schools and districts continue to experience gains in student achievement and lead the nation in student achievement success measures. This achievement is evidenced by progress made towards narrowing proficiency gaps between student subgroups, increased graduation rates, and performance on national and international assessments.

However, while Massachusetts continues to achieve and experience successes in K-12 education, persistent disparities in opportunities and outcomes remain for students of color, English language learners, students from low-income backgrounds, and students with disabilities. For example, in 2017, the five-year graduation rate for all Massachusetts high school students was 90.1 percent, while the rate was only 69 percent for English language learners, 76.8 percent for students with disabilities, and 82 percent for low-income students. Additionally, while the five-year graduation rate for white and Asian students in 2017 was 93.9 percent and 95.4 percent respectively, the rate was 84.2 percent for African-American students and 77.4 percent for Hispanic students.

A growing body of educational research demonstrates the positive impacts of teachers of color on short- and long-term academic outcomes of students of color. Specifically, the research finds that having a single teacher of color can boost academic achievement, high school graduation rates, and college enrollment for students of color (Dee, 2004; Gershenson, 2018).

In Massachusetts, 40 percent of students are of color, while only 8 percent of teachers are of color. An analysis of educator preparation data indicates that in 2016-2017, of the approximately 15,400 candidates enrolled in a Massachusetts educator preparation program, only 14 percent identified as people of color. In addition, an analysis of educator retention data finds disparities in the rates of attrition between teachers of color and their peers. For example, statewide in 2016-2017, districts had a teacher attrition rate of 12.5 percent. However, the district attrition rate for Hispanic teachers was 17.4 percent and for African-American teachers was 23.5 percent. Factored with the already low numbers of Hispanic and African-American teachers statewide, the impact of these attrition rates is significant.

In light of these findings, recruiting and retaining a diverse and effective educator workforce is one of the Department's priority strategies to address educational inequity. Descriptions of the current educator diversification initiatives are detailed below.

Teacher Diversification Pilot Program Grant

The Teacher Diversification Pilot Program is a new $1.7 million competitive grant awarded to 14 school districts to support local efforts to strengthen and diversify existing teacher recruitment and retention programs. The grant will provide financial assistance to paraprofessionals (such as classroom aides), district graduates, recent college graduates, and provisionally licensed teachers. Specifically, the grant will provide tuition assistance to support enrollment into, and the completion of, an approved educator preparation program; provide Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) preparation support; and/or pay for associated costs of MTEL examination fees. The grant will also support thoughtful, high-impact strategies to enhance districts' existing "grow-your-own" educator initiatives. Based on preliminary analysis, the Teacher Diversification Pilot Program will result in approximately 200 newly licensed teachers. The districts currently participating in the pilot program are: Amherst-Pelham, Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lowell, Malden, Pittsfield, Somerville, Springfield, The Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership, Wayland, and Worcester.

InSPIRED Fellowship

The InSPIRED Fellowship was launched in January 2019 to provide an opportunity for current educators to recruit students and young adults from underrepresented communities at the high-school, community college or undergraduate level into the teaching profession. The goals of the fellowship are to increase the diversity of the teaching workforce in Massachusetts, and to increase the retention rates of current educators committed to a diverse workforce by creating a network of like-minded, committed educators that can persist beyond the fellowship period. There are currently 35 InSPIRED fellows working in schools and districts across the state, including Holyoke, Springfield, Randolph, Brockton, East Bridgewater, Boston, Salem, Waltham, Malden, and Lawrence. Fellows are working with one another and alongside educator preparation providers to support and guide prospective teachers to enroll in a teacher preparation program.

Influence 100

Influence 100 is a new pilot program aimed at increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of superintendents in Massachusetts, creating more culturally responsive districts and leaders across the state, and promoting better outcomes for students. Influence 100 includes a fellowship program for qualified educators who desire to move into the superintendent role in the next five years, and support for school districts to become more culturally responsive and to engage in intentional strategy development and execution around diversifying their educator workforce. All fellows will be given explicit programming on navigating political challenges, understanding racial identity and racial identity development, learning best practices for senior-level leadership, and building contextual awareness around the history of race and education in Massachusetts. The goal is that, in the next ten years, the program will work with 100 districts across the Commonwealth to become more culturally responsive and to develop an intentional strategy around diversifying their educator workforce (teachers, principals, staff, senior district leaders) to better serve all students.

Commissioner's College Visits

Together with Department staff members and InSPIRED fellows, I visited five Massachusetts institutes of higher education between February and April 2019 to speak with students about the teaching profession and the need for a racially and ethnically diverse Massachusetts teacher workforce. To date I have met with approximately 300 students and faculty members from Bridgewater State University; University of Massachusetts Amherst, Boston, and Dartmouth; and Holyoke Community College. The visit to Holyoke Community College included a joint presentation with the Department of Higher Education Commissioner, Carlos E. Santiago.

Ventura Rodriguez, Senior Associate Commissioner for Strategic Initiatives, Shay Edmond, Director of Student Equity Initiatives; Cheryl Camacho, Special Assistant to the Commissioner and Sandra Hinderliter, Lead for Educator Preparation will be at the May 2019 Board meeting to discuss our current educator diversification initiatives and answer questions.


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Educator Diversification Initiatives PowerPoint