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Increasing diversity in teacher education programs — September 2020


Could you provide research on increasing enrollment of candidates of color in teacher education programs?


Following an established REL West research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports and resources on increasing enrollment of candidates of color in teacher education programs. The sources we searched included ERIC, Google Scholar, and PsychInfo. (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

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 for references through the most commonly used sources of research, but the list is not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Access to the full articles is free unless indicated otherwise.

Research References

Carothers, D., Aydin, H., & Houdyshell, M. (2019). Teacher shortages and cultural mismatch: District and university collaboration for recruiting. Journal of Social Studies Education Research, 10(3), 39–63. Abstract and full text available from

From the abstract: “U.S. schools are facing chronic shortages of qualified teachers, resulting in the hiring of unqualified teachers who are disproportionately assigned to disadvantaged students. Further, changing demographics are resulting in racial/ethnic and cultural mismatch between teachers and students they serve, causing additional educational problems. This solution to the shortage and mismatch lies in attracting more students to teacher preparation programs, especially culturally and racially/ethnically diverse students. This study describes collaboration between a university and school districts to offer dual enrollment courses and a summer camp for high school students considering teaching careers. The researchers examined the effect of camp participation on perceived readiness to enroll in college and teach a class in a public school, as well as participants’ likelihood of entering a teacher preparation program. Study results suggest early exposure to teaching experiences positively influence high school students’ perceptions of teaching as a career. Impact on participants and implications for teacher recruitment are discussed.”

Dinkins, E., & Thomas, K. (2016). Black teachers matter: Qualitative study of factors influencing African American candidates success in a teacher preparation program. AILACTE Journal, 13(1), 23–40. Abstract and full text available from

From the abstract: “This qualitative study examined the perspectives and experiences of ten African American students at a predominantly White institution to understand why students persisted or discontinued in the teacher preparation program. Findings indicate three predominant factors influence Black candidates’ decision to complete or leave the program: the role K–16 teachers play in inspiring African American candidates to become educators, a desire for social justice that motivates African American undergraduate students to embrace or reject teaching as a career, and the role of standardized exams and financial barriers in preventing African Americans from completing education programs.”

Farinde, A. A., LeBlanc, J. K., & Otten, A. S. (2015). Pathways to teaching: An examination of Black females’ pursuits of careers as K–12 teachers. Educational Research Quarterly, 38(3), 32–50. Abstract and full text available from

From the abstract: “White, female, middle-class teachers dominate the education field. As a result, Black female teachers are underrepresented in the teaching field. Statistically, Black female teachers represent 7.7% of the United States teaching force, while White female teachers make up over 60% of the American teaching workforce. With the aim of diversifying the teaching pool, this phenomenological study explored the lived K–12 and collegiate educational experiences of Black female in-service teachers in order to gain insight about their vocational choices to become educators. Constant comparative data analysis revealed four major themes. The results of this study have implications for teacher education programs and educational policy.”

Gist, C. D., Bianco, M., & Lynn, M. (2019). Examining “Grow Your Own” programs across the teacher development continuum: Mining research on teachers of color and nontraditional educator pipelines. Journal of Teacher Education, 70(1), 13–25. Abstract available from and full text available from

From the abstract: “Grow Your Own (GYO) programs are cited in recent policy briefs as viable pathways for increasing the racial/ethnic diversity of teachers, yet recent scholarship on GYO programs is minimal. To address this issue, this article investigates what we know, and do not know, about GYO programs, by examining a range of data sources on different types of GYO program teacher pools (e.g., middle/high school, paraprofessional, community activists/parents mentors) and making sense of findings over a continuum of teacher development (e.g., recruitment, preparation, induction, and retention). Based on a research synthesis within and across GYO program teacher pools, we argue implications for policy, practice, and research that should accompany increased recommendations for expanding GYO models for Teachers of Color.”

Gist, C. D., White, T., & Bianco, M. (2018). “Pushed” to teach: Pedagogies and policies for a Black women educator pipeline. Education and Urban Society, 50(1), 56–86. Abstract available from After registeration full text available from

From the abstract: “This research study examines the learning experiences of 11th- and 12th-grade Black girls participating in a precollegiate program committed to increasing the number of Teachers of Color entering the profession by viewing a teaching career as an act of social justice committed to educational equity. The pipeline functions as an education reform structure to disrupt pedagogies and policies that push Black girls out of educational spaces at disproportionate rates by instead pushing Black girls to teach. Critical race and Black feminist theories are utilized to analyze interviews from Black girls over a 5-year period of the program and composite characters are developed to spotlight key findings that allow us to (a) better understand and amplify the collective learning and social-emotional experiences of Black girls in the program, (b) highlight and critique the challenges and possibilities for positively pushing Black girls’ intellectual identities as students and future teachers via pedagogies and supports, (c) identify spaces and structures in schools that can resist and combat the marginalization of Black girls’ agency and genius, and (d) consider implications for the development of Black Women Educator pipelines.”

Goe, L., & Roth, A. (2019). Strategies for supporting educator preparation programs’ efforts to attract, admit, support, and graduate teacher candidates from underrepresented groups (Research Memorandum No. RM-19-03). Educational Testing Service. Full text available from

From the abstract: “Educator preparation programs (EPPs) are increasingly focused on identifying successful strategies for diversifying their programs by including more teacher candidates from underrepresented groups (i.e., students of color, English language learners, first-generation students). But the process of attracting, admitting, supporting, and successfully graduating students from underrepresented groups has proven to be challenging for many reasons—some more easily addressed than others. However, there are EPPs that are succeeding against the odds. This research memorandum outlines some of the challenges EPPs face and offers a consolidated look at literature-based strategies for addressing such challenges.”

Goings, R. B., Brandehoff, R., & Bianco, M. (2018). To diversify the teacher workforce, start early. Educational Leadership, 75(8), 50–55. Abstract available from and full text available from

From the abstract: “This article highlights the need to introduce students earlier in their K–12 experience to becoming a teacher. We then discuss the impact of one such program called Pathways2Teaching on increasing the representation of students of color in the field of education.”

Herrera, S. G., Morales, A. R., Holmes, M. A., & Terry, D. H. (2012). From remediation to acceleration: Recruiting, retaining, and graduating future culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) educators. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 13(2), 229–250. Abstract available from and full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “This ethnographic case study explores one mid-western state university’s response to the challenge of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD), especially Latino/a, student recruitment and retention. BESITOS (Bilingual/Bicultural Education Students Interacting To Obtain Success) is an integrated teacher preparation program implemented at a predominantly White university that seeks to both increase Latino/a students’ initial access to higher education and provide institutional support to facilitate a high rate of graduation. The researchers consider key elements of the BESITOS program model as they relate to and support the sociocultural, linguistic, academic, and cognitive dimensions of the CLD student biography. For each dimension, the program model is first placed in the context of existing literature on CLD student education. The key elements and strategies of the program model used to successfully meet recruitment and retention goals are then discussed.”

Hrabowski, Freeman A., III, & Sanders, M. G. (2015). Increasing racial diversity in the teacher workforce: One university’s approach. Thought & Action, 101–116. Abstract available from and full text available from from

From the abstract: “In 2014, for the first time in U.S. public schools, the percentage of Hispanic, African American, Asian, and other students of color exceeded the percentage of white students, creating a majority-minority system that reflects the mosaic of cultures, experiences, languages, and religions that characterize this nation. In stark contrast, an overwhelming number of their teachers—84 percent—are white. In fact, more than 40 percent of public schools in the U.S. do not have a single teacher of color. This student-teacher diversity gap, also referred to as the demographic gap, has drawn increased attention from educators and parents over the past three decades. Yet it remains pronounced, requiring intentional action from critical stakeholders, including federal and state policymakers, school system officials, and faculty and administrators in schools, colleges, and departments of education in partnership with colleagues throughout the university. In this article, the authors describe the extent of the diversity gap nationally and in the state of Maryland, where their campus—the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)—is located. They further describe how the framework that emerged from UMBC’s Meyerhoff Scholars Program has been applied to their Sherman STEM Teacher Scholars Program, designed to increase the diversity of UMBC’s teacher candidates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) certification areas. Finally, they discuss plans to expand their use of the framework to increase the diversity of teacher candidates across all certification areas offered at the university.”

Ingersoll, R., May, H., & Collins, G. (2019). Recruitment, employment, retention and the minority teacher shortage. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 27(37), 1–38. Abstract and full text available from

From the abstract: “This study examines and compares the recruitment, employment, and retention of minority and nonminority school teachers over the quarter century from the late 1980s to 2013. Our objective is to empirically ground the ongoing debate regarding minority teacher shortages and changes in the minority teaching force. The data we analyze are from the National Center for Education Statistics’ nationally representative Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and its longitudinal supplement, the Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS). Our data analyses document the persistence of a gap between the percentage of minority students and the percentage of minority teachers in the U.S. But the data also show that this gap is not due to a failure to recruit new minority teachers. In the two decades since the late 1980s, the number of minority teachers almost doubled, outpacing growth in both the number of White teachers and the number of minority students. Minority teachers are also overwhelmingly employed in public schools serving high-poverty, high-minority and urban communities. Hence, the data suggest that widespread efforts over the past several decades to recruit more minority teachers and employ them in disadvantaged schools have been very successful. But, these efforts have also been undermined because minority teachers have significantly higher turnover than White teachers and this is strongly tied to poor working conditions in their schools.”

Lau, K. F., Dandy, E. B., & Hoffman, L. (2007). The pathways program: A model for increasing the number of teachers of color. Teacher Education Quarterly, 34(4), 27–40. Abstract and full text available from

From the abstract: “The Pathways to Teaching Careers Program was a national recruitment effort started in 1989 to bring teachers of color into the teaching profession. This effort was instrumental in forging the investment of some $50 million for a series of grants that included 26 programs in 66 colleges and universities, located in 43 cities in 26 states (the Armstrong Atlantic State University Pathways Program began as a grantee in 1992). The grant was targeted to produce, recruit and prepare more than 3,000 teachers, especially minorities, who would serve more than 100,000 students annually in urban and rural public school systems. Regional technical assistance for program direction in the southern states was provided by the Southern Education Foundation, that has a 125-year record for promoting equity and equality in education. A six-year study yielded a recruitment goal of 2,593 participants and documented an 81% retention rate. The national Pathways Program targeted three groups of school personnel—teacher assistants, substitute teachers, and provisionally certified teachers—all of whom were non-certified public school employees. Programs that participated in this initiative were required to have the following essential features: a consortium structure partnering historically black colleges and universities with traditionally white institutions and school districts, a value-added philosophy that guided recruitment and enhancements to teacher preparation curricula, and a nontraditional talent pool as the target recruitment population. In this article, the authors examine the Armstrong Atlantic State University Pathways to Teaching Program. First, they describe basic features of the program itself, and provide data on its graduates. Then, they report results of a study investigating factors underlying its high rate of retention.”

Sharp, L. A., Carruba-Rogel, Z., & Diego-Medrano, E. (2019). Strengths and shortcomings of a teacher preparation program: Learning from racially diverse preservice teachers. Journal of Teacher Education and Educators, 8(3), 281–301. Abstract and full text available from

From the abstract: “Racially diverse teachers are valuable sources of knowledge in school systems. However, a lack of diversity among teachers has demonstrated long-standing issues with how racially diverse teachers are prepared for teaching. The present study sought to expand on prior research by examining the viewpoints of racially diverse preservice teachers concerning the strengths and shortcomings of their teacher preparation program using a transformative qualitative research design. We recruited participation among six racially diverse preservice teachers enrolled in a teacher preparation program affiliated with a university identified as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. We collected data through focus group interviews held during a two-week period and analyzed data systemically with two levels of coding. Our findings consisted of three main themes: Interactions with Peers and Teacher Preparation Program Stakeholders, Navigating Teacher Preparation Program Complexities, and Views of Preparedness/Unpreparedness to Teach. We provided a discussion of these themes, used critical race theory to identify examples of institutional racism, and issued three recommendations to university administrators for ways in which they may remove systemic barriers for racially diverse preservice teachers.”

Torres, J., Santos, J., Peck., N. L, & Cortes, L. (2004). Minority teacher recruitment, development and retention. The Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University. Abstract and full text available from

From the abstract: “When school systems began to desegregate after Brown v. Board of Education, 80 percent of the school population was white and 20 percent was minority. By 1996, the number of minority students had risen to approximately 35 percent of the student population, and today it stands at nearly 40 percent and growing. These students continue to achieve well below white students in most subject areas and at virtually all grade levels (Williams, 1996).Test score results, schooling expenditure rates, dropout statistics, and related data indicate that many minority students are at risk of academic failure. Though quality teaching for diverse student populations depends on many factors, there are too few qualified teachers for diverse student populations and too few teachers with specific training in culturally responsive pedagogies. The Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University has prepared this review with the understanding that, while there may be much knowledge in practice about minority teacher recruitment, retention, and development, there is still a need to gather and synthesize promising research in order to enable education practitioners and policymakers to identify the most effective programs and practices that encourage more minorities to choose teaching as a career, develop expertise as teachers, and remain in the profession. In addition, it is intended to provide researchers with provocative questions for further investigation. This report represents the third annual synthesis of research in a series of five proposed to the Institute of Education Sciences at the United States Department of Education. It is intended for a broad audience, including educators, policymakers, and researchers at the national, state, and local levels. Therefore, this review examines studies within a number of research traditions and with a variety of perspectives studies that do not frequently appear in the same bibliography. This approach embodies the belief expressed throughout a great deal of the research that diversity of viewpoints will generate increased knowledge and creative ideas for further research. This knowledge and creativity will subsequently enhance student and teacher learning and enrich the national discourse on the significance of diversity in American public life.”

REL West note: Although this review was published in 2004, we include it here because of its relevance to the request.

Waddell, J. (2014). Supporting students of color in teacher education: Results from an urban teacher education program. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 16(2), 261–275. Abstract available from and full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “This article describes an urban teacher education program on a predominantly White campus, in which 71% of the students in the program were students of color. This article details a qualitative study and highlights the structures of support most influential in the retention of students within the program. Findings suggest that a multifaceted approach to student support is most influential in retaining students of color. Influential support structures emerging from the data were: (1) cohort model; (2) focus on diversity; (3) high expectations; and (4) close interaction with faculty. The author makes the case that results can inform and be replicated in all teacher education and/or post-secondary education programs.”

Wallace, D. L., & Gagen, L. M. (2020). African American males’ decisions to teach: Barriers, motivations, and supports necessary for completing a teacher preparation program. Education & Urban Society, 52(3), 415–432. Abstract available from and full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “The growing diversity of student populations within the public schools of the United States and the lack of diversity present in the current pool of certified teachers are of great interest to colleges and universities seeking to increase the diversity of teacher candidates. Researchers explored the factors that encouraged African American male teachers in a large southeastern public school division to complete an accredited teacher education program leading to state licensure. Completed questionnaires and structured interviews with 11 African American male educators from elementary and secondary classrooms provided data revealing the barriers, motivations, and supports related to the retention of African American males in college and university teacher preparation programs.”

Additional Organizations to Consult

Education First –

From the website: “Education First is a seasoned team of trusted advisors to the leaders responsible for delivering what many Americans want most: public education that effectively prepares all students for success in college, careers and a world of constant change. We devote our energy and expertise to improving opportunities for all children, especially low-income students and students of color.”

REL West note: Education First works with districts, teacher preparation programs, states and foundations to help them identify opportunities to get and keep educators of color in schools. See a list of their projects at

Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) –

From the website: “The Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) is an independent, non-profit organization. Our mission is to achieve equal educational opportunity for every child through strong public schools that prepare all students to access and succeed in college. IDRA strengthens and transforms public education by providing dynamic training; useful research, evaluation, and frameworks for action; timely policy analyses; and innovative materials and programs. We are committed to the IDRA valuing philosophy, respecting the knowledge and skills of the individuals we work with and build on the strengths of the students and parents in their schools.”

REL West note: IDRA has one resource that is relevant to this request:

Valenzuela, A. (2017). Grow Your Own educator programs: A review of the literature with an emphasis on equity-based approaches. Intercultural Development Research Association. Abstract and full text available from

Learning Policy Institute –

From the website: “The Learning Policy Institute conducts and communicates independent, high-quality research to improve education policy and practice. Working with policymakers, researchers, educators, community groups, and others, the Institute seeks to advance evidence-based policies that support empowering and equitable learning for each and every child.”

REL West note: Learning Policy Institute has two resources that are relevant to this request:

Carver-Thomas, D. (2018). Diversifying the teaching profession: How to recruit and retain teachers of color. Learning Policy Institute. Abstract available from and full text available from

Carver-Thomas, D. (2017). Diversifying the field: Barriers to recruiting and retaining teachers of color and how to overcome them. Learning Policy Institute. Abstract and full text available from

New America –

From the website: “We use original research and policy analysis to help solve the nation’s critical education problems, crafting objective analyses and suggesting new ideas for policymakers, educators, and the public at large.”

REL West note: New America has one resource that is relevant to this request:

Muniz, J. (2018). Diversifying the teacher workforce with ‘Grow Your Own’ programs. New America. Full text available from


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used:

[(“Teacher education programs” OR “teacher preparation programs”) AND (diversity OR equity OR “diversity gap” OR “promoting diversity”) AND (recruitment OR retention OR enrollment)]; [“candidates of color” AND (“teacher education programs” OR “teacher preparation programs”) AND (measures OR outcome OR improvement)

Databases and Resources

We searched Google Scholar and ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When searching and selecting resources to include, we consider the criteria listed below.

  • Date of the Publication: References and resources published within the last 15 years, from 2005 to present, were included 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 and academic databases. Priority is also given to sources that provide free access to the full article.
  • Methodology: Priority is given to the most rigorous study designs, such as randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental designs, and we may also include descriptive data analyses, survey results, mixed-methods studies, literature reviews, or meta-analyses. Other considerations include the target population and sample, including their relevance to the question, generalizability, and general quality. Priority is given to publications that are peer-reviewed journal articles or reports reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations. If there are many research reports available, we select those with the strongest methodology, or the most recent of similar reports. When there are fewer resources available, we may include a broader range of information. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the West Region (Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory West at WestEd. This memorandum was prepared by REL West under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0012, administered by WestEd. 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.