Will efforts to strengthen teaching profession push minorities out? - New York News

Will efforts to strengthen teaching profession push minorities out?

Updated:

By: Celia Baker, Deseret News

A growing number of states are looking at policies to raise the academic bar for students entering teaching programs. But on most measures being considered - from GPAs to test scores - minority candidates tend to do less well than their white peers, said a story in Education Week. That has policy-watchers worried that such plans will result in a K-12 work force with fewer black and Latino teachers.

That runs against efforts to increase numbers of minority teachers. A 2011 report from the Center for American Progress called for stepping up recruitment of teacher candidates of color. Nationally, students of color make up more than 40 percent of the public school population, but teachers of color comprise only 17 percent of the teaching force.

"Teachers of color serve as role models for students, giving them a clear and concrete sense of what diversity in education - and in our society - looks like," the report said. "A recent review of empirical studies also shows that students of color do better on a variety of academic outcomes if they're taught by teachers of color."

Concerns about the quality of the U.S. teaching force are supported by statistics. Only 13 percent of recent bachelor's degree graduates in education had top SAT scores, compared with about a quarter of all graduates, the Education Week story said, citing government data.

Groups calling for a more selective entry process for students in teaching programs include the American Federation of Teachers, Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation and the National Council on Teacher Quality. Each of the groups suggests that candidates should have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and an ACT score of at least 24.

It's possible that such arbitrary standards might cause talented teacher candidates to be overlooked, the Education Week story suggested. Bright minority students who could become great teachers under the right circumstances might fail to meet those bars because they attended low-performing schools where their potential wasn't developed. To bridge such gaps, teacher programs in Florida and Wisconsin are allowed to exempt a small percentage of candidates who don't meet admissions standards. It's something other states may consider as they formulate policies.

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Copyright 2013 Deseret Digital Media, Inc.

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