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REL Southwest Ask A REL Response

Teacher Workforce:

Strategies for Increasing High Schoolers’ Interest in Teaching

November 2018


What are effective strategies or programs to increase interest in the teaching profession/recruitment for high school students?


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Thank you for the question you submitted to our REL Reference Desk. We have prepared the following memo with research references to help answer your question. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles on strategies for increasing the interest of high school students in the teaching profession or recruitment of high school students.

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your reference. Also, we searched the references in the response from the most commonly used resources of research, but they are not comprehensive, and other relevant references and resources may exist. References provided are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. We do not include sources that are not freely available to the requestor.

Research References

Ayalon, A. (2004). A model for recruitment and retention of minority students to teaching: Lessons from a school-university partnership. Teacher Education Quarterly, 31(3), 7–23.

From the ERIC abstract: “This article documents implementation and critically reflects upon the results of a partnership between a predominately white rural college and a multicultural urban school district. The partnership was intended both to recruit high school students of color from an urban school to teacher education and to encourage teacher candidates from a rural college to seek employment in urban areas. Establishing a school-university partnership is a challenging task, and the literature suggests that few school-university collaborations exist. The paths to collaboration among the partnerships that do exist are not well documented. Furthermore, no literature was found on collaborations between rural colleges and urban K-12 schools with the primary goal of recruiting students of color to teaching. The present article describes the main elements of such a program and the most helpful and most challenging aspects of developing a partnership. It also lists lessons learned from this endeavor.”

Goings, R. B., & Bianco, M. (2016). It’s hard to be who you don't see: An exploration of Black male high school students’ perspectives on becoming teachers. Urban Review, 48(4), 628–646. Retrieved from

From the abstract: “The goal of this qualitative study was to explore the perspectives of high school age Black males (N = 22) regarding factors that influence or deter their consideration of becoming teachers. Participants were enrolled in a yearlong, pre-collegiate course designed to introduce high school students to the teaching profession. Qualitative analysis of students’ interviews revealed that negative school experiences, including low expectations, racial stereotypes, and microaggressions, deterred consideration of becoming a teacher. Positive interactions with encouraging teachers and the opportunity to have direct teaching experience in the community helped students see themselves as potential future teachers. Implications for practice are discussed.”

Pastermak, D. L., & Longwell-Grice, R. (2010). Urban teacher world: Teacher recruitment from theory to practice. New Horizons in Education, 58(2), 1–17.

From the ERIC abstract: “Background: The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s (UWM) Urban Teacher World Pre-College Academy works with American high school students to explore what it means to be an educator in the urban context. High school students from underrepresented groups reside at the UWM campus to work with university faculty, staff and students to explore careers in education. In so doing, the participants experience education beyond the traditional classroom. Aims: One of the School of Education’s recruitment initiatives, this program encourages students of color to explore potential careers in education. Twenty-one high school students read, wrote plays, created multimedia art, and performed together to investigate what it means to be an educator in the 21st century. Attendees identified potential careers and university majors leading to occupations in the field of education. Arguments: Through close mentoring relationships between high school students, college students, and university faculty and staff, pre-college programs attract underrepresented people to the field education. These relationships support underrepresented people to identify as successful college attendees. Given the teacher shortage and the lack of success to recruit people of color to the ranks of professional educators, pre-college programs are another route universities should consider. Conclusion: This collaboration addressed the School of Education’s goal of increasing the diversity of its student body and thereby increasing the diversity of the teaching profession.”

Swanson, P. B. (2011). Georgia’s grow-your-own teacher programs attract the right stuff. High School Journal, 94(3), 119–133. Retrieved from

From the abstract: “There is a shortage of educators and there are various factors that account for the lack of teachers. Millions of new teachers will be needed in the near future and the present study juxtaposes the vocational personality profiles of adolescents (N = 262) participating in Future Educators of America programs in Georgia to in-service teachers’ profiles as determined by Holland’s ‘Self-Directed Search’ inventory. Using Holland's theoretical framework for congruence between one’s personality and the workplace as a lens, the results indicated that adolescents in the future educator programs shared the same Holland code as in-service teachers. Noting that teachers tend to return to the area in which they were raised, findings from this research have serious implications for the identification and recruitment of tomorrow's teaching force.”

Thieman, E. B., Rosch, D. M., & Suarez, C. E. (2016). Consideration of agricultural education as a career: A statewide examination by high school class year of predicting factors. Journal of Agricultural Education, 57(4), 29–43.

From the ERIC abstract: “The shortage of teachers in Illinois is reflective of a recent trend where agricultural education graduates of in-state post-secondary institutions have not met the need for the number of available teaching positions. The retirement of the many teachers from the Baby Boomer generation is looming over the profession, making recruitment efforts essential (Illinois Board of Education Report, 2014). With secure funding sources of higher education dwindling, efficiency and effectiveness of recruitment efforts are critical if agricultural education is to continue to survive and thrive by facilitating a steady stream of highly qualified teacher candidates into the field. The purpose of this study was to examine factors influencing high school student consideration of agricultural education as a future career. We included students in grades 9 through 12 (n = 817) from 56 different agricultural education programs. Within the overall sample, parental support and a student’s report of their agriculture teacher emerged as the most powerful predictors, while noteworthy differences arose across class years. These findings possess significant implications for the timing and focus of recruitment efforts.”

Zascavage, V., Winterman, K., Armstrong, P., & Schroeder-Steward, J. (2008). A question of effectiveness: Recruitment of special educators within high school peer support groups. International Journal of Special Education, 23(1), 18–30.

From the ERIC abstract: “The present study combines information about support groups for students with disabilities from 187 East Texas high schools with explanatory variables taken from data of the Texas Education Agency Academic Excellence Indicator System. This study is a tangential section of a larger study on the influence of peer support groups in East Texas (Zascavage, Schroeder & Armstrong, in print 2008). Our primary goal was to refine our special education recruitment focus using statistical determinants on peer support activities for students with disabilities in East Texas based on the demographic characteristics of the school districts most likely to have peer support. Based on the field literature position that peer support groups would be effective recruitment pools, the analysis investigated variables in a given school district with the purpose of determining which of these variables would influence future recruitment drives and funding allocations. Since teacher shortages are often location specific and requires innovative local solutions (Allen, 2005), what works one place may not be effective in another location. However, peer support groups are present or absent throughout the US, lending this study very likely to reflect the situations in many school districts. At this time, there are very few adequate empirical studies on the effectiveness of special education recruitment (Allen, 2005). Our study presents one possible cost effective, pro-active premise to impact local special education recruitment, the local determination of the presence or absence of peer support groups for students with disabilities.”


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Strategies for Diverse Teacher Recruitment
  • Diversifying the Teaching Profession
  • Teacher Diversity
  • Grow Your Own (GYO) programs
  • Minority teacher recruitment
  • “Teacher recruitment strategies” AND “high school students”

Databases and Resources

We searched ERIC for relevant, peer-reviewed research references. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched the What Works Clearinghouse.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published from 2003 to present, were include in the search and review.
  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, PsychInfo, PsychArticle, and Google Scholar.
  • Methodology: The following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order; (b) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected, and so forth), study duration, and so forth; and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by stakeholders in the Southwest Region (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest at AIR. This memorandum was prepared by REL Southwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-91990018C0002, administered by AIR. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.