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CCSSO Offers Vision, Guidance on Creating a Racially Diverse and Culturally Responsive Teacher Workforce

Washington, D.C.The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today released a vision and guidance paper outlining steps states can take to increase the racial diversity of the teacher workforce and support future and current teachers in effectively teaching students of different cultural backgrounds.

A Vision and Guidance for a Diverse and Learner-Ready Teacher Workforce articulates the critical need to create a racially diverse and culturally responsive teacher workforce and offers a vision of what teaching and learning experiences for teachers and students would look like when this goal is achieved. It also provides education leaders policy and practical guidance on steps they can take alone and in collaboration with key state stakeholders to improve teacher diversity and cultural responsiveness in their schools.

In the United States, 5 out of 10 students in public schools are students of color, yet the diversity of today’s educator workforce does not reflect that of students. Research shows that students’ race, ethnicity and cultural background significantly increase their achievement, and that all students benefit from being educated by teachers from a variety of different backgrounds, races and ethnic groups, as this experience better prepares them to succeed in an increasingly diverse society. However, today, more than 40 percent of public schools have no teachers of color.

“State chiefs are committed to providing an equitable education for all students. Critical to this work is ensuring students have access to a racially diverse and culturally responsive teacher workforce that fosters academic success and well-being for all students and prepares them to graduate prepared for college, careers and life,” said Carissa Moffat Miller, executive director of CCSSO. “This resource builds on the Council’s previous work by offering a concrete vision for how a diverse and culturally responsive teacher workforce will benefit all students and teachers, and also provides state leaders with best practices and policies they can choose from to expand and strengthen ongoing efforts in their individual states.”

The benefits of achieving a racially diverse and learner-ready workforce are many.

For students, a diverse and learner-ready workforce would mean:

  • Access to highly trained and qualified teachers who hold them to high expectations, support their self-esteem, challenge them in ways that motivate and inspire them to learn independently and seek new knowledge, and believe in their success.
  • Meaningful access to grade-level content, advanced courses and programs, and curriculum and materials that reflect cultures and histories of all different kinds of people and helps them build a stronger sense of belonging to both the school and wider community.
  • Feeling seen, heard, valued, safe, respected, cared for, and accepted regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, mental/physical ability.
  • Teachers, principals, and other educational professionals that reflect different cultures, histories, and identities and who model cultural awareness and inclusion.

A diverse and learner-ready workforce also would enrich and strengthen teacher practice by providing them:

  • An ethnically and racially diverse group of teachers within each school working as members of a team, sharing their knowledge and skills, and contributing to the ongoing development of an inclusive school culture that is responsive to each student.
  • Ownership and agency in identifying, developing, using, and sharing curricula and pedagogy that resonates with their perspectives, background, and vision for educating students.
  • An environment where teachers observe one another in the classroom, engage in pedagogical discussions, and collaborate to improve their teaching methods and explore new instructional strategies, particularly with an aim of strengthening culturally responsive practices.

In addition to laying out the vision for students and teachers, the paper offers best policy and practice recommendations states can choose from to attract, prepare, support and retain diverse and learner-ready teachers. Some of those recommendations include:

  • Revise and enforce licensure standards and accompanying assessments to ensure a culturally responsive workforce.
  • Analyze and monitor teacher licensure requirements to create new programs to increase ethno-racial diversity of the teacher workforce.
  • Adopt and implement rigorous program approval standards to assure that teacher preparation programs recruit candidates from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds and produce quality candidates of all backgrounds capable of demonstrating culturally responsive practice.
  • Adopt and implement policies and practices to assure teacher educator effectiveness.
  • Annually and publicly report on multiple indicators of the diversity of the teacher workforce.

Driven by its foundational report Our Responsibility, Our Promise CCSSO has worked with state education chiefs over the past five years to transform how educators are prepared and equipped with the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of all students. The Council has set a goal that by 2025 at least 15 states will have evidence of increased racial diversity in their teacher workforce and that all teachers demonstrate culturally-responsive practices.

As part of this effort, CCSSO last spring launched the Diverse and Learner-Ready Teachers Initiative, a network of 10 states working to address educator diversity and teacher-ready challenges. Participating states include Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, New Jersey and New York. This work is further supported in partnership with more than 30 national collaborating organizations, including the Regional Education Laboratories (RELs) supported by the Institute of Education Sciences and the regional national comprehensive centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, Bureau of Indian Education, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.

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