How Opportunity Culture Models Aim to Increase Teacher Diversity

by | March 10, 2023

As recent reports have highlighted, public schools face an ongoing need to increase educator diversity. Students of color make up more than 50 percent of public school enrollment, FutureEd reported, but 79 percent of the teaching force is white. How can Opportunity Culture models help?

Let’s start with some statistics:

  • Public Impact administers an annual survey of teachers and staff in Opportunity Culture schools across the country. The survey showed that 48.9 percent of those in Multi-Classroom Leader roles were people of color, far more than the 21 percent in teacher roles nationally. Similarly, 53.8 percent of Opportunity Culture teacher residents were people of color, versus around a fifth of all new teachers in the U.S.
  • On average, those in Multi-Classroom Leader (MCL) roles lead teaching teams that reach five teachers’ worth of students—meaning MCLs serve as a role model for and build relationships with many more students than in the one-teacher, one-classroom model. And MCL roles are designed to provide great teachers with a way to stay in the classroom while advancing in their career and earning more, so they can continue to directly serve students.
  • In the latest survey, 97.6 percent of Opportunity Culture MCLs who identify as people of color wanted Opportunity Culture implementation to continue in their school the next year.

Making teaching an attractive long-term career choice, with room to reach more students and advance and earn more while receiving significant support and developmental feedback, are all hallmarks of the Opportunity Culture initiative. Public Impact’s guidance for Opportunity Culture design and implementation emphasizes the importance of recruiting, developing, and empowering excellent teaching among all school staff—and ensuring that students of color have access to more educators with matching identities.

For example:

  • In its recent report on bringing more Black educators into teaching, the National Center for Teacher Residencies highlighted six recommendations for improving the recruitment, preparation, and support of Black educators. Those include making teacher preparation financially accessible, and investing in and supporting mentors who can cultivate prospective Black educators—both possible through MCL-led teams and paid Opportunity Culture residencies.
  • Unlike typical half-year, unpaid student teaching positions, Opportunity Culture models include the possibility of full-time, yearlong teacher resident positions that provide a full salary with benefits, having residents serve in paraprofessional roles on MCL teams. When designed this way, residencies can ensure that prospective teachers learn the elements of instructional excellence, attract an outstanding, diverse pipeline of teacher candidates, and provide students with strong learning experiences through the close guidance MCLs provide to residents.
  • Opportunity Culture recruitment materials also encourage recruiting a diverse applicant pool, with specific suggestions to improve district recruitment efforts. And the Opportunity Culture selection process uses behavioral event interviews, which were developed in part to help reduce racial bias. District leaders praise this process as a fairer way to create a strong district applicant pool, from which principals may hire for Opportunity Culture roles.

For those seeking strategies to diversify the teaching profession, Opportunity Culture staffing designs provide a sustainable, long-term solution—and education leaders and advocates should consider using the potential of Multi-Classroom Leadership and teacher residencies to pursue this important objective.

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