Spotlight on Racial Equity
Anticipating Staffing Needs
- The effects of the pandemic on staffing are multi-faceted as you consider its impact on student learning needs, potential teacher turnover, enrollment bubbles, and the continuation of certain remote instructional models. Forecasting targeted needs relative to hiring will help school administrators prepare for this challenge.
- There may be an increased need for districts to hire or supplement instructional support in the following areas:
- Specialized instructional support personnel such as social workers, school psychologists, and licensed mental health counselors to address the social-emotional and learning needs as students transition back to in-person learning
- ESL educators to support increases in the number of English language learners
- Additional instructional staff to support potential co-teaching models, multi-classroom leaders, mentor programming, or other non-traditional instructional delivery models where remote teaching will still be provided
- Pre-K and kindergarten teachers due to projected enrollment bubbles
- Seek out and elevate adaptive skills. To support students in the 2021-2022 school year, new hires will likely need to be creative problem-solvers, strong relationship builders, and adept in providing social-emotional supports.
Federal Stimulus Funding to Support COVID-Related Staffing
- American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funding provides an estimated $1,647,115,000 for elementary and secondary schools in Massachusetts. Available for use into FY2024, these "ESSER III" funds can support the hiring and placement of multiple teachers in a given classroom. This type of intensified support can be critical, especially for traditionally marginalized students including students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities as they transition back to in-person schooling. Intentional and strategic additional hiring also provides the opportunity to expand and diversify your educator pipeline (e.g., by focusing on paraeducators and student teachers in teacher positions).
- Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief II (ESSER II) Funds can be also used to support COVID-related staffing, including:
- Mental health services and supports
- Providing principals and others school leaders with the resources to address individual school needs (e.g., hiring teachers to engage in remote instruction, hiring substitutes to cover classes for teachers who are absent due to COVID-19 exposure)
- Activities necessary to maintain district operations and services and to continue employing existing district staff
Educators on Emergency Licenses
- The Emergency license option allows individuals to enter the workforce without completing testing and coursework requirements necessary under normal circumstances for Temporary, Provisional or Initial educator licenses. This is a temporary license put in place to mitigate COVID-19-related barriers to MTEL administration.
- The Emergency license is valid through June 30, 2022.
- This license may provide an opportunity to welcome educators of color who otherwise face inequitable barriers to entering the profession. Compared to the MA educator workforce, the educators employed on Emergency licenses are more likely to identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latinx, or multiracial. About one-third of educators with Emergency licenses identify as people of color, compared to the statewide average of 8%.
- Educators with an Emergency license may or may not have enrolled in or completed an educator preparation program, and may or may not have taken and passed relevant MTELs. Consider how you can tailor your hiring process to ensure that these candidates will be a strong fit for your district’s needs, and see our Supporting New Educators section (coming soon) for ideas on how to support them through their first years of teaching.
Remote Hiring Practices
- Certain remote hiring practices will continue to offer more efficient and equitable strategies to engage candidates. Consider which remote practices may become a permanent part of your hiring process, such as:
- Virtual information sessions, whichprovide a space to welcome, connect, and share information with prospective applicants.
- Virtual demo lessons using the mixed-reality simulations available through Mursion or reflections on practice by assigning a video in the OPTIC platform.
- Gather feedback from educators who were hired remotely for the 20-21 school year. Surveys, listening sessions, and 1:1 check-ins can help your team identify ways to strengthen the process and improve applicants’ experiences during the 21-22 hiring cycle.
Leveraging Existing Pipelines
- Invest in student teachers and paraprofessionals. These educators are more likely to stay in your school longer than new hires, and are more effective with students than the average first year teacher.
- Use the Edwin Teacher Preparation Partnership Pipeline Report to identify the preparation providers currently pipelining into your district.
Building an Equitable Hiring Process
- Include a diverse group of stakeholders, including educators, parents, and students, to ensure broad input and to reduce the impact of individual bias in the hiring process.
- Every single one of us brings biases to the table. Invite members of a hiring team to write down biases they’re aware of, and consider sharing lists with each other to create space for accountability when biases show up.
- Identifying and analyzing ‘must-haves’ and rubrics can help teams identify and mitigate biases in the process, while also ensuring that each candidate is being evaluated on the key criteria that position them to serve students and their school community well.
- Share with candidates the tangible ways your school and district works to build an anti-racist, culturally responsive work environment. This can support candidates, including educators of color, to make an informed decision. For additional information about cultivating a supportive work environment for educators of color, see the Guidebook on Recruitment, Selection, and Retention Strategies for a Diverse Massachusetts Teacher Workforce.
Effective Screening Processes
- Comprehensive screening tools, including sample lessons and measures of academic and subject matter expertise, are low-cost, easy to implement, and predictive of teacher effectiveness in the classroom. Professional references may also be among the best, and most efficient, tools in your screening toolbox.
Supporting Job Candidates
- Consider whether the language of your job postings is inviting. Some tips include explicitly welcoming members of marginalized communities to apply, narrowing the required credentials to what is most necessary to do the job well, and avoiding a "laundry list" of preferred skills.
- Share interview questions with candidates in advance. This can support folx* who need additional time to process, and signals that you are taking a welcoming approach to hiring educators.
- Studies suggest that districts that start the hiring process early are more likely to hire strong teachers.
Licensure Supports and Alternative Pathways
- Licensure Support to Educators of Color through the InSPIRED Fellows: InSPIRED Fellows are in-service educators who partner with DESE to help cultivate, support, and retain a culturally responsive and diverse educator workforce in MA schools. In Spring 2021, Fellows will release resources and supports for educators of color seeking to obtain or advance their educator license. Fill out this form to connect with InSPIRED Fellows as more information becomes available.
- Looking ahead, DESE is launching pilots for alternative assessments to the Communication and Literacy Skills and Subject Matter MTELs. Stemming from the Commissioner’s push to examine licensure practices and diversify the MA educator workforce, these pilots are intended to identify alternative mechanisms for assessing knowledge and skills and be responsive to feedback from the field while continuing to maintain a high bar for all educators. You can learn more information on the DESE MTEL page.
Questions to Consider
- How can we invite diverse stakeholders into our hiring process?
- What intentional goals and actions will our team take to hire and create supportive environments for educators of color?
For their contributions to this module, we’d like to thank the following members of the 2020-2021 Principal Advisory Cabinet:
Ashley Davis, Principal, Pauline A. Shaw Elementary School, Boston
Steven Moguel, Principal, Morgan Full Service Community School, Holyoke
Kristen Smidy, Principal, Hampshire Regional High School
*Folx (as opposed to its traditional spelling, "folks) can signal intentional inclusivity, particularly of transgender and non-gender-binary individuals.
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Bruno, Paul, and Katharine O. Strunk. "Making the Cut: The Effectiveness of Teacher Screening and Hiring in the Los Angeles Unified School District." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, vol. 41, no. 4, 2019, pp. 426-460.
Gleischman, Kelly. "A Guide to 3 Virtual Hiring Event Types." Nimble, 2020.
Goldhaber, Dan, Cyrus Grout and Nick Huntington-Klein. "Screen Twice, Cut Once: Assessing the Predictive Validity of Applicant Selection Tools." Education Finance and Policy, vol. 12, no. 2, 2017, pp. 197-223.
Jacob, Brian, Jonah E. Rockoff, Eric S. Taylor, Benjamin Lindy, and Rachel Rosen. "Teacher Applicant Hiring and Teacher Performance: Evidence from DC Public Schools." Journal of Public Economics, vol. 166, 2016, pp. 81-97.
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The New England Secondary School Consortium Task Force on Diversifying the Educator Workforce. "Increasing the Racial, Ethnic and Linguistic Diversity of the Educator Workforce ." 2020.
Superville, Denisa. "To Recruit More Teachers of Color, This District Posted a Unique Job Ad." EducationWeek, 2019.
Last Updated: April 5, 2021