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Para to Teacher Pipeline

Para to Teacher Pipeline: An Overview

Purpose: Consistent with Springfield Public School’s previous strategic plan, The Springfield Promise 2.0, the mission of the Para to Teacher Pipeline Program is to attract knowledgeable, highly effective, diverse educators who want to work in a high performing district. As research shows, educational success for students of color is significantly improved by working with educators who share their backgrounds. Unfortunately, most current teachers in large, urban school districts throughout the United States do not reflect the racial and socioeconomic diversity of their students. In Massachusetts, only 8 percent of teachers identify as people of color, while 42 percent of students do. While the curve is slightly greater here in Springfield, only 20% of our teachers identify as people of color, compared to nearly 90% of students.

Grounded in research on best practices in diverse teacher recruitment and retention, our Para to Teacher Pipeline Programs seek to reduce the racial diversity gap by preparing more individuals of color for classroom teaching roles. While increasing the racial diversity of educators continues to be a national challenge in the field of education, we are fortunate to have a ready, diverse source of teachers already working in our schools. As data shows, para-educators are significantly more culturally diverse than is the teacher corps. In Springfield, 60% of para-educators identity as people of color. Aside from the benefits of racial representation, para-educators already know and like to work with our students, have experience in critical need areas such as special education and ESL, and are often long-term residents of our communities. The challenge, however, is that para-educator positions are often low paying, with significant barriers to entry into traditional educator preparation programs.

Given this urgent need to diversify the educator workforce and the opportunity to “grow our own” here in Springfield, our overall purpose is to provide a menu of accessible, affordable options and support for para-educators who wish to become fully-licensed teachers of record who reflect the racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of our students.

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