Amid Back-To-School Hiring Challenges, New Data Show State Recruitment And Retention Policies Pay Little Attention To Teachers Of Color

Better state policy could increase teacher diversity, strengthening the teacher talent pipeline and improving outcomes for students


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Washington, D.C. – As students and teachers return to school, school principals and district leaders will likely report challenges filling vacant teaching positions. And just like in years past, the gap between students of color and teachers of color will persist or grow even wider.

Despite robust research that shows that teachers of color increase positive academic, social-emotional, and behavioral outcomes for all students, particularly students of color, new data and analysis from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) suggest a variety of ways state education leaders and policymakers could do more to increase teacher diversity.
The new NCTQ report, State of the States 2023: Policies to Increase Teacher Diversity, shows the extent to which states are prioritizing teacher diversity in policy and funding across four key areas: (1) building a stronger pipeline of future teachers of color; (2) offering incentives to attract candidates of color; (3) supporting, retaining, and developing teachers of color; and (4) using data to set goals and track progress.

Across the nation, NCTQ found that:

  • Thirty-six states have created multiple pathways to prepare new teachers, but only a few are developing pathways with an explicit focus on attracting a more diverse workforce.
    • For example, six states fund post-baccalaureate teacher residencies, with only three—Louisiana, Mississippi, and New York—explicitly using the strategy as part of their efforts to increase teacher diversity.
    • To increase their overall teacher workforce, 46 states have established or funded high school pipeline programs, while 21 of these states have done so with the goal of explicitly increasing teacher workforce diversity.
  • Few states use financial incentives to explicitly attract teachers of color.
    • Thirty-four states fund scholarships for teacher candidates, but only 17 of those do so with the explicit goal of increasing teacher diversity.
    • Twenty-seven states use loan forgiveness as a teacher recruitment/retention strategy, of which only 9 have an explicit goal of increasing teacher diversity.
    • About half of states (24), provide differentiated pay for hard-to-staff schools, which tend to have greater proportions of teachers of color.
  • Thirty-six states have funded or established state-level initiatives to support educator retention in general, but only 14 of those have an explicit focus on retaining teachers of color.
    • While many states provide general funds for retention initiatives without naming a specific approach, those that offer explicit strategies primarily focus on mentorship and affinity groups (where teachers can connect and find support among peers who share a salient characteristic, such as racial/ethnic identity).
  • While many states collect some teacher diversity data, only seven states have set public goals for increasing the diversity of their teacher workforce.
"We know the importance of teachers of color for all students, and we need to put state policies in place to attract, support, and retain them," said Dr. Heather Peske, NCTQ President. "The good news is that state policymakers don't have to start from scratch. There are many examples of states leading the way. We need more bold action to scale these efforts."

In addition to national and state policy snapshots, the report also provides a series of recommendations for increasing the diversity of the teaching profession.

About the National Council on Teacher Quality: NCTQ is a nonpartisan research and policy organization on a mission to ensure every child has access to an effective teacher and every teacher has the opportunity to be effective. We believe a strong, diverse teacher workforce is critical for providing all students with equitable educational opportunities. More information about NCTQ can be found on our website,

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