PESB has prioritized investing in and creating a range of initiatives to close the teacher-student diversity gap. These efforts include:
- creating more accessible, community-orientated educator pathways
- expanding access points into the teaching profession
- critically examining barriers caused by systemic racism that candidates may face on their journey to becoming a teacher
The testing barriers work group
The demographic gap between the racial, cultural, and linguistic background of Washington’s students and their teachers has persisted despite intensive efforts to recruit and retain teacher candidates of color and bilingual teachers. Nearly 50% of our students identify as students of color, while only 11% of teachers identify as educators of color (Office of Public Instruction 2016-17).
The testing barriers work group was formed to investigate testing barriers experienced by candidates of color and bilingual candidates and develop recommendations for consideration by PESB and the Washington State Legislature.
Research shows that teachers of color have positive outcomes in closing the opportunity gap for students of color, as well as for white students. After consideration of literature and studies produced on behalf of this effort, the work group generated their final recommendations (PDF).
In their recommendations, the testing barriers work group called for the need to move away from using standardized tests as a single predictor of knowledge and skills. The work group also considered research that points to standardized testing’s inherent cultural and linguistic bias. As a result, standardized testing tends towards particular sets of knowledge and cultural norms, creating unfair advantages within the system. The recommendations call for a system that values all the skills that contribute to what makes a great teacher – including community knowledge, cultural responsiveness, social emotional skills, and ability to develop relationships with students and families.