Closing Gaps in Equitable Access : Diversifying the Educator Workforce in Ohio

Closing Gaps in Equitable Access : Diversifying the Educator Workforce in Ohio

An ethnically and racially diverse workforce is important for raising the achievement of all students, but research also suggests this is particularly true for improving outcomes and closing achievement gaps for students of color. Yet national and state-level data confirms that the US teaching workforce has a significant diversity problem.

Teachers of color are only 20% of the educator workforce while nearly 50% of students attending public schools are students of color.

Lack of educator diversity is also a driver of equity gaps in student achievement, as teachers of color are more likely to identify students of color for gifted and talented programs, assign disciplinary actions more equitably between students of different backgrounds, and generally improve outcomes for students of color.

Ohio Department of Education (ODE)

Facilitate a 40-member stakeholder group to select and prioritize evidence-based strategies

3 Stakeholder Meetings
Facilitation Materials and Tools
Action Plan

Cheryl Krohn, ODE Lead
Etai Mizrav, GTL Project Lead
Tammie Knights, GTL Support

While the gaps are evident, the root causes driving these gaps are complex and look different in each state or district. To diversify the educator workforce, states and districts need to select and customize evidence-based strategies that specifically address the local structures and contexts that produced the gaps in the first place.

Diversifying the Educator Workforce in Ohio

Ohio knew it was facing significant educator diversity gaps. While its student population is increasingly diverse, with students of color making up 30% of all K-12 students in Ohio, its educators are predominantly white: educators of color make up only 5% of the educator workforce. Focused on closing that gap, Ohio committed in its Every Student Success Act (ESSA) plan to use data, engage stakeholders and identify potential opportunities and partnerships for recruiting and retaining a diverse educator workforce.

In Ohio, students of color make up 30% of all K-12 students, but teachers of color are only 5% of the state's educator workforce.

In collaboration with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) and the Great Lakes Comprehensive Center (GLCC), the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center) developed a four-step process with a suite of supporting tools and resources that allow states to do exactly that: create a locally driven, evidence-based action plan for improving the diversity of their own educator workforce.

The GTL Center's Four-Step Process & Tools

Ohio Step 1 icon

Step 1. Data Analysis: Use the GTL Center's Insights on Diversifying the Educator Workforce Data Tool to measure, analyze and visualize existing educator workforce diversity gaps across the educator career continuum and at the state, district, school and Educator Preparation Program (EPP) levels.

Ohio Step 2 Icon

Step 2. Root Cause Analysis: Use a modified-version of the GTL Center's Root Cause Analysis Workbook to consult with educators and other stakeholders to identify the underlying root causes for identified gaps.

Ohio Step 3 Icon

Step 3. Evidence-based Strategy Selection: Link identified root causes with evidence-based, high-impact strategies and a select a timeline for implementation.

Ohio Step 4 Icon

Step 4. Implementation, Monitoring, and Continuous Improvement: Explore the GTL Center's Evidence-Based Strategy Toolkits for action planning and implementation tools for several high-leverage strategies, like mentoring and induction and teacher leadership models. Monitor intended and unintended consequences to ensure that the strategies are eective in accomplishing the


Putting Stakeholders in the Driver's Seat

In November 2018, ODE partnered with the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) to convene a thoughtfully selected, diverse group of 40 stakeholders including district leaders, principals, teachers, students, HR directors, community organizations, deans of educator preparation programs and others to engage in the four-step process. According to Cheryl Krohn, Center Strategic Administrator at ODE and the agency lead for the project, making sure the right people were at the table was crucial to the project:

“It's a lot of work to get the right people in the room. The GTL Center helped me look through my stakeholder list, make sure I had the right people in the room [and ensure the group] was diverse in different ways. This isn't necessarily an easy topic either, so it's important to have the right partners to have these conversations.”

The GTL Center process and tools are designed to put local data and local knowledge in the driver’s seat as groups complete each step in the process. Using the GTL Center's Insights on Diversifying the Educator Workforce Data Tool, the group started with Ohio’s own student and workforce data while also drawing on stakeholder knowledge alongside broader research and evidence from the field.

“We were looking at our own data and information and what we were seeing happening on the ground while [the GTL Center] built our knowledge-base throughout the three meetings,” explained Krohn, “And I think that helped us pick evidence-based strategies that we felt were right for Ohio. [GTL and GLCC] really respected our working group and let things come out naturally, but also guided [the process] with evidence, with our participants really reflecting on what they wanted and what our problems were, and then vetting strategies. That's why I liked working with the GTL Center, they allowed that space. They didn't control, they allowed it to flow, but it was structured to happen that way. By the end, people were voting and prioritizing the recommendations.”

The State's Role: Facilitating Partnerships and Building Local Capacity

According to Krohn, one important lesson ODE learned from the process is the critical role the state education agency can play in brokering strong partnerships between districts and institutions of higher education: “We as an agency need to support our districts and higher education institutions to really look at their data around this work and provide them support and planning for what they can do, [including] tapping into the already existing resources that we haven't been, and really building stronger partnerships to get this work moving forward quickly. We have a lot of good things happening here, it's just never come together in a way to really make a significant change, so that's exciting.” 

As part of priming stakeholders to engage in future partnerships, ODE made building-up the capacity of local actors a core goal for the project. Krohn notes that “the GTL Center made sure we had the resources and tools necessary so that local stakeholders could also go back to their local entity and do the same work, look at their own data and do their own root cause analysis and think of their own strategies to tackle the work.”

Project Outcomes

To date, the working group has completed steps 1-3 of the process and is finalizing a document outlining the group’s recommendations and associated strategies. The GTL Center’s lead for the project, Etai Mizrav, notes that the focus for the project is not on the final plan that will be produced, but rather on the change and outcomes it will create:

“Too often, states produce compelling, well-designed, comprehensive plans that simply end up sitting on a shelf and having limited impact in real classrooms. In this project we are seeing different kind of leadership from Ohio. From the very beginning, the state has shown genuine readiness and willingness to drive change and improve outcomes for all students. ODE was never afraid to go deep and tough on those issues that can be contentious and engage in difficult, but necessary, conversations that can result in actual impact. So our goal with this project is to produce a real action plan: a technical, practical document outlining those strategies that all stakeholders are ready to commit to and that would make a real difference for students who are currently in the system, one that includes concrete steps, budgets, and real funding streams associated each strategy.”