Source: Educational Policy, 32(7), 1018–1040.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
Summary and Research Questions
The emergence of community college teacher education baccalaureate programs provides students with more options in their pursuit of a baccalaureate degree; however, what the authors wanted to see is whether these programs might prove successful in producing a net increase in baccalaureate degrees as well as providing greater access to the bachelor’s degree to students who have been historically underrepresented in the teaching field.
Thus, a natural question is whether states that have adopted community college baccalaureate (CCB) programs have experienced growth in the number of college graduates attaining bachelor’s degrees in teacher education relative to trends in states without these programs.
Furthermore, given the need for more teachers of color and the fact that community colleges tend to be the point of entry into postsecondary education for Black and Hispanic college students, another important question is whether these states that have adopted CCB programs have experienced shifts in the demographic makeup of individuals receiving bachelor’s degrees in teacher education.
The authors note that more information about these issues could provide valuable insight to policymakers when they consider the role of community colleges as one way for students to obtain bachelor’s degrees in fields, such as teacher education, where states have significant labor force need.
And, particularly in the case of teacher education, more information about these issues could also provide insight into ways that states might produce a much-needed diverse teacher workforce.
Specifically, the authors ask the following research questions:
1: What is the effect of a state adopting CCB teacher education programs on overall teacher education degree production in that state?
2: What is the effect of a state adopting CCB teacher education programs on the share of teacher education degrees awarded to Black and Hispanic students in that state?
The authors developed a unique panel dataset spanning the years 1995-2013 and comprising a variety of state-level variables. Their dependent variable was defined first as the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in teacher education by state, and second as the percentage of these degrees awarded to Black and Hispanic graduates by state.
Their independent variable of interest was the presence of CCB teacher education programs, and their control variables included a number of state-level characteristics that are plausibly related to degree production.
The authors empirically gauged the effect of CCB teacher education programs on degree production by implementing a quasi-experimental approach that compares the number and percentage minority of graduating teachers in states with teacher education CCB programs with the same measures in states that do not have the CCB. They did this in an attempt to use the non-CCB teacher education states as reflective of the patterns in teacher degree production for the states that did adopt the CCB in teacher education if they had not done so.
In other words, this comparison represents “the road not taken” for states with CCB teacher education programs and serves as baseline for unearthing whether any patterns in degree production and minority student composition emerge as a result of a state starting a CCB teacher education program.
To further identify the relationship between teacher education CCB programs and teacher education degree production independent of time-varying characteristics of state that may also affect degree production, they controlled for a number of state-level variables.
Due to the uneven nature of the number of institutions in a given state offering CCB programs in teacher education, the authors employed a case study investigating Florida—a state that has far more colleges offering CCB programs in teacher education compared with other states.
On 2010, Florida had a total of 12 institutions offering teacher education CCB programs significantly more than any other state. As such, they ran their models again using Florida as a case study.
Due to a lack of consistent findings, it does not appear to the authors as though CCB teacher education programs have had a discernable effect on the number of teacher education graduates nor on the racial composition of the graduates.
The authors suggest that one possible explanation for these findings is the limited number of institutions offering CCB teacher education programs in a given state. With a small number of programs in a given state, there may simply not have been the capacity necessary to increase the number of teacher education graduates, thus possibly explaining the authors’ non-finding.
Florida had by far the most, with 12 colleges offering these programs.
In Florida, the authors’ models showed statistically significant findings.
Specifically, the models showed an average increase of 357 teacher education degrees produced following the introduction of the CCB in teacher education, yet a 6.28-percentage-point decrease in the Black and Hispanic share of graduates.
The authors note that in both the full comparison and the local and focal comparisons, their models showed that in a state that has embraced the CCB in teacher education more than any other state, overall degree production has increased, yet diversity has decreased.
Discussion and Directions for Future Research
The authors note that findings from their analyses of all states with CCB programs in teacher education suggest that these programs, on average and in a global sense, did not have a discernable effect on the number of individuals earning teacher education degrees, nor on the racial composition of the graduates.
They suggest that this finding, however, may be due to the fact that most states that had initiated CCB teacher education programs had done so in a very limited capacity, at only one or two institutions, with limited enrollments.
These limited programs may simply not have enough capacity to meet the rising demand for teachers, including teachers of color, at least not at a statistically significant level.
By focusing on Florida—the state that had initiated teacher education CCB programs at a far greater number of institutions with more robust enrollments—the authors did observe a definite increase in the overall number of students obtaining teacher education degrees following the introduction of teacher education CCB programs.
At least in Florida, they note that the introduction of teacher education programs appears to have produced more teachers.
Thus, CCB programs, when introduced at a sizable number of community colleges across a state, may be a viable and important option for states facing teacher education labor market shortages. Considering both the study’s national and Florida-specific findings, those who seek to use the teacher education CCB as a mechanism to increase graduates from teacher education programs are advised by the authors to expand the number of community colleges who are allowed, and encouraged, to offer the CCB in teacher education, and actively encourage and support student enrollments in these programs.
The authors note that at the same time, Florida’s success in increasing the number of teacher education graduates has come at a cost:
The diversity of the teacher education graduates has declined. Indeed, the authors found that the introduction of CCB programs in Florida yielded a net 6.28-percentage-point decrease in the share of individuals completing a degree in teacher education who are Black or Hispanic.
The authors warn that those who seek to utilize the CCB to increase the number of education graduates should be cognizant of this risk and weigh the benefits of a potentially expanded teacher labor force against the potential loss of its diversity.
The authors conclude in noting that CCB teacher education programs remain a relatively recent phenomenon, which may also explain the non-finding from the full sample models.
Finally, given their finding that CCB programs have a negative relationship with teacher education diversity in Florida, they recommend undertaking future research on the mechanisms behind this relationship, and ways in which diversity can be supported and enhanced while also increasing the overall number of individuals graduating from teacher education programs. They suggest that as states consider solutions to the teacher shortage, answers may lie in expanded CCB teacher education programs with a commitment in both sectors—community colleges and traditional 4-year institutions—to support students of color.