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Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE)

Teacher Diversification Pilot Program Grant

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner
Date:September 13, 2019

This memorandum updates the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) on the Teacher Diversification Pilot Program Grant administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department). At our September 24 meeting, the Board will hear from Pittsfield school leaders about their involvement with the grant program and actions they are taking to strengthen recruitment and retention of diverse, effective educators in the Pittsfield Public Schools.

Background Context

In May 2019, the Board received updates on current initiatives the Department is leading to diversify the educator workforce in the Commonwealth. The updates included a description of Influence 100, the InSPIRED Fellowship program, the Commissioner's college visits, and the Teacher Diversification Pilot Program Grant.

Teacher Diversification Pilot Program Grant

The Teacher Diversification Pilot Program Grant is a $2 million competitive grant program to support local school district efforts to strengthen and diversify existing teacher recruitment and retention programs. The grant provides funding that districts may use for financial assistance to paraprofessionals (such as classroom aides), district graduates, recent college graduates, and provisionally licensed teachers, to help them prepare for a teaching career. Specifically, grant funds may be used for: tuition assistance to support enrollment in, and completion of, an approved educator preparation program; preparation support for the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL); and/or associated costs of MTEL examination fees. In FY2020 districts may also use the grant to provide financial incentives such as loan payment reimbursement; relocation assistance; and signing bonuses to support local school district recruitment efforts. The grant will continue to support thoughtful, high-impact strategies to enhance districts' existing "grow-your-own" educator initiatives.

To increase the effectiveness of teacher recruitment and retention practices, participating pilot districts are required to review their district policies and procedures, identify the cultural proficiency training needs for district hiring managers, teachers, and principals, and engage in cultural proficiency and teacher talent recruitment training with the Department's contracted vendor, TNTP.

In FY2019, 14 school districts, including Pittsfield Public Schools, received teacher diversification pilot program grants.1 Pittsfield Public Schools utilized the grant to develop and implement an out-of-state recruitment strategy designed to foster new partnerships with students and staff from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In July 2019, the district invited 12 students from HBCUs to participate in a one-week immersion program to acquaint them with teaching and living in the Berkshires.

Ventura Rodriguez, Senior Associate Commissioner for Strategic Initiatives; Shay Edmond, Director of Student Equity Initiatives; Jason McCandless, Pittsfield Public Schools Superintendent; Judy Rush, Curriculum Director; and Shirley Edgerton, District Cultural Competency Coach, will be at the September 2019 Board meeting to discuss how the teacher diversification pilot program grant has supported the enhancement of Pittsfield Public Schools teacher recruitment and retention program.

1 FY2019 Teacher Diversification Pilot Program Grant districts: Amherst-Pelham, Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lowell, Malden, Pittsfield, Somerville, Springfield, The Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership, Wayland, and Worcester.

Last Updated: September 16, 2019

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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