Illinois College is one of 24 colleges and universities in the state taking part in a new pilot program aimed at recruiting more people of color to the teaching profession.
Last week the Illinois State Board of Education announced the pilot for colleges and universities in Illinois to develop plans to recruit and retain future teachers of
color. The pilot will help establish best practices ahead of ISBE requiring all 54 Illinois educator preparation programs to develop plans next year.
Director of Placements and Recruitment in the Teacher Preparation Program and Instructor in Education at Illinois College, Bridget English says the project is a logical extension of existing efforts by IC to promote the representation of students of color in the teacher workforce.
“We know that students who see themselves reflected in the power structure are more likely to have successful academic outcomes. So diversifying the teacher workforce in Illinois will not only improve overall student success in Illinois public schools, but it will also address the growing teacher shortage crisis that we have nationwide.”
The recruitment and retention efforts are part of ISBE’s three-year strategic plan, which includes the goal of increasing teacher diversity in Illinois public schools.
English says the initiative involves a comprehensive review of both internal and external recruitment policies as well as providing ongoing support for education majors.
She says Illinois College was eager to take part in the volunteer pilot because of the long-term benefits for the overall program.
“The focus of the initiative is on recruiting and retaining educators of color. But we know that this process will improve outcomes for all students entering the field of education at Illinois College. So we support the targeted audience, but we also know that taking a look at how we are doing this is going to improve our processes across the board.”
The number of teachers of color in the profession has grown incrementally over the past three years. ISBE says the pilot will help speed that progress by supporting programs in addressing their specific barriers to increasing candidate diversity.
English says the program developed by Illinois College could benefit both institutions and students as soon as the next fall semester.
“The goal here is to have a plan in place that is specific to Illinois College with implementation efforts beginning as early as 2022 and 2023. So we are in the process of forming up our advisory council and starting to get some of the information we want to get from students through those focus groups together right now. And then by May, after collaborating with our group of reviewers, and some of the non-profits that are in place, we will present a plan to ISBE and hopefully our model can be replicated by other small liberal arts colleges in the area and perhaps help them to diversify their pipeline as well.“
ISBE says the 2021 Illinois Report Card released earlier this month showed that 82 percent of practicing Illinois teachers identify as White, whereas only 47 percent of Illinois public school students identify as White.
Studies also show that students taught by teachers of the same race are less likely to be chronically absent and less likely to experience exclusionary discipline.