PED report on teacher diversity misses the mark

The Program Evaluation Division (PED) of the NC General Assembly just published “Lack of a Dedicated State-Level Effort Challenges North Carolina’s Capacity to Increase Teacher Diversity,” a report detailing the state’s minimal progress in increasing the diversity of the teacher workforce.

Surprisingly, the report does not differentiate between charter and district schools.  That’s a problem because research finds that Black students in NC charter schools are more likely to have black teachers.  The reasons why may offer guidance for districts and policymakers.

Last year, Education Week reported on a Fordham Institute study by Seth Gershenson, an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University, that examined teacher demographics in North Carolina district and charter schools.

Black students in charter schools are more likely to have black teachers than their peers in traditional public schools, which can lead to academic gains in math, a new study shows.

The study published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning think tank that also authorizes charter schools in Ohio, examined data from grades 3 to 5 in North Carolina’s traditional and charter public schools, from 2006-07 through 2012-13.

The findings show that traditional public schools and charter schools serve the same proportion of black students, but charter schools have about 35 percent more black teachers. Black students in charter schools are more than 50 percent more likely to have at least one black teacher than their counterparts in traditional public schools, while white students are equally likely to have at least white teacher in both types of schools.

As one would expect, the NC Department of Public Instruction’s written response did not identify that as a shortcoming of the PED report.

Terry Stoops / Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies

Terry Stoops is the Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the Locke Foundation, he worked as the progra...

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