MidAmerica Nazarene University announced that it is one of 10 universities nationwide selected by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education to participate in the Association’s first Networked Improvement Community (NIC).

The initiative of this group is aimed at increasing the diversity of the nation’s teacher candidate pool by focusing on recruitment of more Black and Hispanic/Latino men in teacher preparation programs.

More than 50 AACTE member institutions in 25 states applied to be a part of this NIC, known as Changing the Demographic Makeup of the Teaching Workforce. Following a rigorous review these institutions were selected for the three year program:

· Boston University

· California State University Fullerton

· Florida Atlantic University

· MidAmerica Nazarene University

· Northeastern Illinois University

· University of Arkansas at Little Rock

· University of Connecticut

· University of Saint Thomas

· Western Kentucky University

· William Paterson University of New Jersey

According to MNU’s Dean of the School of Education Nancy Damron, PhD, the goal is to increase the percentages of Black and Hispanic/Latino male teachers by examining recruitment methods, equity based admissions practices, and incentives to pursue a career in teaching.

“We want to increase the enrollment of Black and Hispanic/Latino males in our teacher education program by 25% by September 2016,” Damron says. “Our committee will begin professional development with AACTE in August, then apply what we learn to our admissions process and program elements in the School of Education.”

According to AACTE about 80% of PK-12 teachers are White, middle-class women. The PK-12 student population is much more diverse; over 40% of students are non-White.

Yet more than 40% of public schools have no teachers of color at all. According to data collected from AACTE members through the Professional Education Data System, of the total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2009-2010 to teacher candidates, only 6% were awarded to Black candidates and about 4% to Hispanic/Latino candidates. And according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 2% of public school teachers are Black males, and fewer are Hispanic/Latino males.

Research also shows that the top three determining factors for minority males in deciding where to enroll and what discipline in which to major are: the time it takes to complete the degree, the cost of the degree and the earning potential of the chosen field. MNU’s accelerated elementary education program answers all of those concerns according to Damron.

“Our program takes just 18 months to complete for students who already have at least an associate’s degree or a minimum of 60 transferable semester hours,” she asserts. “All classes meet at night or are online so students can still work until their student teaching semester. The cost of the program is less than the salary of a first year of teacher. By its very nature this program alleviates all three of these concerns.”

Damron says the NIC group will employ improvement science to reach its goal. Improvement science is a process that draws on business improvement models such as Six Sigma and Lean production principles to drive change. MNU will utilize the “drivers” of recruitment strategy, equity-based admission and incentives to pursue teaching in an effort to bring more minority males to the field.

Specific plans will be executed after August 2014 and evaluated every 90 days. The process is fast-paced and thus makes continual improvement more likely.

“We work on the ‘study, act, plan and do’ model,” Damron says. “After 90 days we evaluate progress, tweak the process and repeat.”

One of the resources the NIC will use is The Improvement Guide: A Practical Approach to Enhancing Organizational Performance, by Langley and Moen, et al.

Updates on the work of all 10 schools in the NIC over the course of the next 3 years will be available on the web site http://theinnovationexchange.net/ and through this blog. Innovations that emerge from the work of this small group will be shared with the entire AACTE membership.

“As the only faith-based university in the NIC, we have a resource other universities might not have,” Damron said. “Our regional Nazarene churches have diverse membership, and our relationship with those churches may provide us with an already strong network of prospective teachers. It is, in essence, a ready-made network of individuals that might respond to the calling of God to change lives through a career in education.”

MNU will receive travel expenses to AACTE conferences and $1,000 per year for the life of the NIC program as well as free professional development in the form of webinars.

More information on MNU’s accelerated elementary education program is found at: MNU Education Program