Project Pipeline Repair: Restoring Minority Male Participation and Persistence in Educator Preparation Programs

Research highlights the critical importance of a racially diverse teaching corps in American schools, especially for the large numbers of students of color confronted with the challenges of growing up amidst low-resourced school districts and communities. Furthermore, schools staffed with diverse teachers support the intellectual and social development of white students in an increasingly diverse country. Project Pipeline Repair is an innovative approach to mitigating teacher shortages and increasing the supply of highly qualified minority male teachers to serve in low-wealth school districts. It involves collaboration with state agencies of higher education, educator preparation programs (EPPs) at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and school partners, and emphasizes targeted and early recruitment of high school juniors, and a dynamic outcomes-based curriculum that aligns with high school standards and college and university expectations.

Male college students of color aspiring to join the teaching profession through traditional EPPs are frequently confronted by formidable program admission and completion barriers, which include academic achievement gaps (reflecting lack of opportunity versus lack of ability); insufficient familiarity with standardized testing; and EPP program costs (testing, student-teaching insurance, background checks, licensing fees, etc.).

Project Pipeline Repair engages a diverse group of stakeholders to develop, implement, and evaluate this research-based, culturally relevant program that utilizes high-impact instruction to achieve learning outcomes. Key features include early engagement of prospective EPP students (junior year of high school); formative and summative performance assessments; individualized academic intervention strategies; supplemental self-paced learning platforms using appropriate instructional technologies; mentoring and academic advising; a toolkit to support success in the EPP of their choice; and completion of college credits prior to enrolling in higher education (through dual enrollment).

Project Pipeline Repair emphasizes academic skill development in the essential areas of written and oral communication, critical thinking for problem solving, teamwork, and quantitative literacy, which are among the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) essential six learning outcomes as described in their publication, College Learning for the New Global Century. In addition to closing academic achievement gaps, the project aims to foster the building of a solid foundation for participants to begin developing the requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions of highly competent and effective educators. HBCUs have a strong historical foundation to build on for 21st century education reform efforts. Many of these institutions began as teachers’ colleges, and they continue to graduate most of the African American students with degrees in the field of education.

The central aims of Project Pipeline Repair are to build a framework that supports:

  1. Increasing the participation and persistence of males of color in educator preparation programs at HBCUs in participating states;
  2. Closing academic achievement gaps, and increasing college readiness for participants through extensive academic enrichment and mentoring;
  3. Shifting the narrative to reflect education as a viable and rewarding career for males of color through an emphasis on social justice and equity; and
  4. Increasing the number of well-prepared males of color to teach in underserved elementary schools and mitigating teacher shortages in participating states.

Participating states are Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Participating HBCUs are the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Southern University A & M Baton Rouge, Alcorn State University, and Claflin University.

Project Pipeline Repair outcomes for the 30-35 males of color enrolled in the program include 1) successful program completion of the three-year initiative; 2) academic improvement; and 3) a shift in their understanding of the teaching profession. These outcomes will be achieved through strong collaborations among state agencies, HBCUs, and school partners, and mentoring. The three-year project began in 2016 and ends in 2019.

Project Pipeline Repair was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.