Equity and educator diversity in Kentucky

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By Veda McClain
veda.mcclain@education.ky.gov

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education required state education agencies to submit an equity plan outlining the state’s efforts in ensuring education equity. Equity means that all learners have access to the type of learning opportunities that they need, when they need them and delivered in a manner that meets they ways in which they learn best.

In developing the Kentucky Department of Education’s equity plan, KDE staff chose to focus on three areas:

  • increasing the number of diverse educators;
  • closing the achievement gap that exists between children of color, poor children and their more affluent and white counterparts; and
  • reducing the novice rate of student performance on state assessments.

For the past several months, KDE has focused on developing a strategic plan to increase the number of diverse educators in Kentucky. A Commissioner’s Educator Diversity Task Force – made up of community leaders, higher education representatives, school district personnel and state legislators – was formed last August and began meeting in September to write a plan and determine the best ways to implement efforts to recruit and retain educators of color. The task force continues to meet to explore possible action steps that would be most beneficial and effective in recruiting and retaining teachers of color.

KRS.161.165 states that the teaching population should reflect the makeup of the student population. That is, if the student population of African-American students in Kentucky is 10 percent, then the number of African-Americans in the teaching workforce should also be 10 percent. The chart below shows the current racial makeup of our student population and the teaching profession, as well as the number of teachers needed to meet the provisions of the statute.

How Kentucky's Classrooms Look, by Race

RaceStudentsClassroom TeachersTeachers Needed
NumberPercentageNumberPercentageNumberPercentage
Non-White Total142,49721.74%1,9514.63%7,21817.11%
African-American69,13710.55%1,4943.54%2,9557.01%
Hispanic39,2125.98%2420.57%2,2815.41%
Asian10,7981.65%1700.40%5251.24%
American Indian/Alaska Native7970.12%240.06%270.06%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander6840.10%210.05%230.05%
Two or More Races21,8693.34%N/AN/A1,4073.34%
Total655,47242,17547,442
Source: All data pulled from the 2015-2016 Kentucky School Report Card on Oct. 11, 2016, and from the Professional Staff Data Report on Sept. 2, 2016.

 

Our efforts at KDE remain reflective as we consider past recruiting and retention activities and as we examine current practices and challenges.

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