Can money attract more minorities into the teaching profession?

Michael Hansen :

Many education policymakers and practitioners across the country recognize the need to recruit and retain more racial and ethnic minorities into the teaching profession. As we’ve previously discussed in our ongoing teacher diversity series, there is credible evidence that minority teachers can boost a range of minority student outcomes, yet minorities are underrepresented among the population of public school teachers.

In light of the scarcity of minority teachers, many states and districts have begun trying ways to somehow bring more minorities into the classroom. To our knowledge, most of these methods have taken the form of targeted outreach, whether to minority communities or teacher preparation programs in universities serving high concentrations of minority students. Though it may be too soon to know whether these different strategies ultimately pan out, we ask if another type of strategy might be effective. That is, could financial incentives help diversify the teacher workforce?

In this installment, we use school- and district-level data from the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) to examine this question.[1] We explore whether districts that offer different types of financial incentives to teachers tend to have greater diversity among teachers within their schools. Based on our analysis, we see a strong association between workforce diversity and four incentive policies that may be particularly attractive for minority teachers. Though we cannot say whether these relationships are causal, the results suggest these policies are worth exploring as strategies for diversifying the teacher workforce.