Teacher Prep

Research Finds Mostly White Ed Force Unready to Support Minority Students

A new RAND report found that more than 80 percent of educators agreed that their training experiences were relevant and effective (82 percent for teachers and 91 percent for school leaders). These individuals came out of their training programs feeling "prepared" to lead a school or teach in a classroom. Also, the more field experience somebody had during the pre-service period, the more likely he or she was to consider that training effective.

Yet, 40 percent argued that their pre-service programs failed to prepare them to support the needs of black, Latinx or low-income students. And that sentiment was higher among white principals and teachers, who make up four in five U.S. educators. The majority of public-school students are now non-White.

However, the report noted, this "race-based" gap nearly disappeared among school leaders who said their pre-service training program did a good job of preparing them in this aspect of their work. That suggested to researchers that "well-structured pre-service programs" could make a difference in building white educators' awareness of equity issues and building their skill sets to support a diverse student body.

Another interesting note: Principals were far more likely than teachers to agree that they felt prepared to use data to "continuously improve" their schools (90 percent compared to 62 percent).

Along with increased focus on supporting the needs of a diverse student body, the report also suggested that educator preparation programs emphasize field experience and "high-quality mentorship experiences" that tie to the coursework.

The report was developed through a survey given to members of RAND's American Educator Panels at the behest of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The AEPs encompass both teachers (nearly 29,000) and principals (almost 13,000). This data was merged with other information pulled from the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2015-2016.

"Principal and Teacher Preparation to Support the Needs of Diverse Students" is openly available on the RAND website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.