The School of Education at St. Thomas is making inroads to increase the number of people of color who choose to become teachers, and national organizations are recognizing its efforts. In March, the school received notice that the Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) accepted its proposal to be part of a consortium to increase equitable access to teaching.
Only around 6% of licensed Minnesota teachers identified as Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), while 38% of students in the state are nonwhite, according to state data. In efforts to help close that gap, the School of Education will join with other AACTE members to examine entrance requirements for teacher preparation programs. This collaboration exemplifies just one more way in which the school has been working to grow the number of diverse teachers through a variety of programs, including key partnerships.
Launched by the AACTE and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Consortium for Research-Based and Equitable Assessments (CREA) includes 15 state teams tasked with looking at the practices used to determine entrance requirements for teacher preparations programs. St. Thomas will lead the Minnesota team and collaborate with faculty from public and private university teacher preparation programs to increase equitable access to teaching.
“We believe it is essential to evaluate assessments used as entrance requirements in teacher preparation programs,” School of Education Dean Kathlene Holmes Campbell said. “As we seek to diversify the teaching profession, we need to continuously review and question our policies to ensure they don’t undermine our efforts. For far too long, the field of education has required potential teachers to pass a variety of assessments even though there is almost no correlation between the assessment and its ability to predict an individual’s future success in the teaching profession.”
Campbell said CREA is needed to help attract talented individuals to the education profession.
“If we seek to truly diversify the education field, then we have a lot of work to do, and it starts with examining who we let in and leave out of our teacher preparation programs,” she said.
The work toward diversifying the field also includes sharing research with peers in higher education. Campbell, along with St. Thomas colleagues Shelley Neilsen Gatti, an associate professor in the Department of Special Education, and Ea McMillan Porter, assistant director, community engagement and recruiting, were featured in a series of videos from the AACTE’s Black and Hispanic/Latino Network Improvement Community on promising practices to recruit and retain male teachers of color. They highlighted many of the initiatives the School of Education is working on to diversify the teaching profession, including residency paths, advocacy for students when it comes to teacher assessments; and ways classes can be taken (in-person, online and hybrid).
“Testing requirements affect people in every single state in the United States,” Campbell said in a video on reducing barriers to teaching. “We need to think about what does the test tell us and what doesn’t it tell us; and do we need to advocate for our students on whether or not we should have so many standardized tests to get into teaching.”