Program aims to increase teacher diversity in local school systems
Roanoke College announced this week that its Bridges Program, which aims to recruit future teachers of color to local K-12 school divisions, was recently accepted as a Research-Practice Partner with the National Center for Research on Educator Diversity at the University of Houston.
The Bridges Program was one of only three such programs in the country – and the only one at a liberal arts college – that was chosen to join the founding Greater Houston Community Teacher Equity Development Program as a Research-Practice Partner (RPP).
“We are honored on two fronts: to work so closely with nationally renowned researchers such as Conra Gist at the University of Houston and Margarita Bianco at the University of Colorado Denver, and to represent the eastern part of the nation in this exciting work,” said Associate Professor of Education Lisa Stoneman, who is chair of the Education Department. “We’re looking forward to gathering in Houston this summer with our research partners to set our next steps in motion.”
The Bridges Program is a new partnership among Roanoke College, Roanoke City Public Schools, Salem City Public Schools and Roanoke County Public Schools that aims to identify aspiring teachers of color in local high schools, educate them at Roanoke College, and place them back in area school divisions after graduation from Roanoke. Roanoke College will welcome its first two students under the program this fall.
The National Center for Research on Educator Diversity (NCRED) is a research hub that was launched in 2020 at the University of Houston. NCRED is committed to dismantling inequity in teacher development systems through supporting the academic and professional advancement of ethnoracially, culturally and linguistically diverse educators.
Data from both the U.S. Department of Education and Pew Research Center indicates that 79% of teachers in America are white. That percentage is even higher in local school systems. According to NCRED, at least half of U.S. public school students are Black, Indigenous or people of color, and research shows that having teachers who look like those students or have similar backgrounds has a positive impact on student achievement, engagement and other outcomes, especially for students of color and Indigenous students. Failure to recruit, prepare and retain teachers of color and Indigenous teachers could put the future of students and the nation at risk, NCRED says.
As an RPP with NCRED, the Bridges Program will help build knowledge about how scholars and practitioners can partner effectively to improve teacher diversity nationwide. All of NCRED’s Research-Practice Partners (RPP) are committed to increasing the presence and retention of Teachers of Color and Indigenous Teachers in high-need schools through one of 11 domains of inquiry described in the Handbook of Research on Teachers of Color and Indigenous Teachers, a knowledge project that involved the collaboration of over 60 researchers from a diverse set of universities across the nation. Together, these RPPs aim to strengthen the knowledge base about how RPPs focused on educator diversity function and sustain.
-The Salem Times-Register