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High Hopes and Harsh Realities: The real challenges to building a diverse workforce

August 2016

Public schools are suffering from a well-publicized diversity problem. Students of color make up nearly half of all public school students, yet teachers of color comprise just 18 percent of the teacher workforce. In an effort to address what Slate has described as "the one cause in education everyone supports," school districts across the country are pledging to employ more teachers who look like their students. But what will it take to achieve a national teacher workforce that is as diverse as the student body it serves, and how long will it take to reach that goal?

This paper seeks to answer both of these essential questions. Researchers from NCTQ and the Brookings Institution, Hannah Putman, Michael Hansen, Kate Walsh, and Diana Quintero, examine four key moments along the teacher pipeline: college attendance and completion, majoring in education or pursuing another teacher preparation pathway, hiring into a teaching position, and staying in teaching year after year. Their findings demonstrate that the path toward reaching a diverse teacher workforce is much steeper than anyone has acknowledged to date.