Why Are Some Credentialing Programs More Racially Diverse Than Others?

Dick Startz points out that while new draft accreditation standards for teacher training programs require higher average SAT scores from students, this won’t necessarily exclude more black and Hispanic students (who tend to have lower SAT scores) because credentialing programs can always admit additional higher-scoring students to raise their cohort average.

The new accreditation standards set an average SAT goal. They don’t set a cutoff that applies to any particular student. Ed schools are free to recruit low SAT students who have other good characteristics, so long as they bring in enough high SAT students.

Maybe. My guess, though, is that most credentialing programs aren’t looking to recruit a genuinely diverse group of students. The fact is that managing heterogeneous groups of students is always harder.

That being said, it does seem to be the case that alternative certification programs like Teach for America actually do recruit more diverse candidates than other programs. The 2012 TfA cohort is apparently only 62% white, compared to over 80% of traditionally-prepared teachers.

The question, then, is how do alt-cert programs like TfA achieve that level of racial diversity? Are they (as Startz suggests) – lowering academic standards for some students to increase their representation? Or do they just have a wider pool to pull from because they recruit so much more aggressively than most ed schools? (Or some combination of the two?)

And if Teach for America is more comfortable with heterogeneity in its teacher corps, is that because it provides so much less training to begin with?

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