Research has documented extensive evidence of how teacher diversity enhances educational experiences for all students. Yet RFA found that while 35.5% of Allegheny County public school students identified as students of color in 2020-21, only 4.5% of the county’s teachers identified as teachers of color. RFA also found a troubling decline in both the number and percentage of Black teachers in Pittsburgh Public Schools and in Allegheny County at large.
This project is designed to identify causes and solutions to reverse these recent trends in Allegheny County. The project will build upon RFA’s prior and ongoing research on teacher diversity and Black teacher attrition through two key parts:
- Technical support and assistance to the Pennsylvania Educator Diversity Consortium and its Southwestern region (PEDC). Members of PEDC have been at the forefront of both statewide and local efforts to increase teacher diversity. Through this project RFA will provide on-going research support to PEDC and its members in building a common agenda to grow community investment, align action steps, and ultimately determine a shared measurement system to assess progress toward regional teacher diversity goals.
- The Allegheny County Black Teacher Study. A community-informed mixed-methods research project, this research is designed to identify barriers to recruitment and retention of Black educators in Allegheny County’s public schools. The study centers in-depth exploratory qualitative research to understand the experiences and perspectives of Black educators and those leading educator diversity initiatives. The study will consist of semi-structured interviews and focus groups with current and former Black teachers, and interviews with leaders of teacher diversification efforts in the region. In addition, we will be conducting new analysis of teacher diversity data to better understand the current and historical context of regional educator diversity trends.
The study seeks to answer the following research questions:
- How do current and former Black teachers understand the attrition of Black teachers from the teacher workforce in Allegheny County?
- What systemic factors—from the school to district to policy level—contribute to Black teacher attrition in Allegheny County?
- What specific supports, systems, and resources are needed to support retention and curb attrition of teachers of color and Black teachers in particular?
- What promising practices and efforts are being pursued to diversify the teacher workforce in Allegheny County?
- What reported outcomes, if any, are these initiatives and efforts producing?
The Allegheny County Educator Diversity project is a two-year project, supported by The Heinz Endowments, the McElhattan Foundation, and Eden Hall Foundation, that began in summer 2022 and will continue through spring 2024. This project is part of RFA’s larger Allegheny County Education Research project (ACER).
Opportunity for participation: If you are a current or former teacher in Allegheny County K-12 public schools and identify as Black, please consider participating in the Allegheny County Black Teacher Study. You can learn more about participation here and submit an interest form to participate here.