Imagine walking into a classroom where the teacher looks like you and can relate to your experiences and cultural background – this is the powerful reality of having teachers of color teach students of color. Yet many school districts struggle to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. This struggle is amplified in the wake of a nationwide pandemic that shook the foundations of schools and left many to operate without a full teaching staff. The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) is working in partnership with the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Mid-Atlantic to use research and data to increase the number of teachers of color hired in the state and eventually improve student outcomes.
Education outcomes improve for students of color who are taught by a teacher of the same race or ethnicity.
Studies indicate that Black students who are taught by at least one Black teacher during grades K–3 had higher test scores and graduation and college enrollment rates, and students of color taught by a teacher of the same race or ethnicity had fewer suspensions and other disciplinary outcomes. Teachers of the same race may also provide more culturally responsive instruction, which can improve students' reading skills and academic achievement and lower their number of disciplinary incidents — incidents that we know disproportionately affect Black students. And exposure to a diverse school faculty and student body can improve cognitive development, including critical thinking and problem-solving, and increase social-emotional development, engagement, test scores, and attendance in students of all races.
New Jersey school districts serve a diverse student body, whereas relatively few New Jersey educators identify as people of color. The state hopes to change this by 2025.
Continue reading on the REL Mid-Atlantic blog.