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TAMIU Selected to Consortium Addressing Barriers to a Diversified Teaching Workforce

James O'Meara

James O’Meara, dean, College of Education

Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) has been selected as a lead institution representing Texas in the  AACTE Consortium for Research-Based and Equitable Assessments (CREA), which will engage 14 states in a study of their state-level tests and qualifying scores for educator preparation program (EPP) entry.

The initiative is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and its goal is to examine the processes and considerations that states use to determine cut scores, and how they can be refined to attract, rather than exclude, potential teacher candidates.

CREA hopes to review the decision-making process for establishing cut scores, the evaluation criteria, and barriers that discourage future teachers of color to achieve assessment success, namely examination costs, bias, and unreliable measurements. AACTE will provide model policies for states to promote a variety of approaches for teacher candidates to demonstrate competencies for licensure.

TAMIU Dean of the College of Education James O’Meara, said TAMIU is in a uniquely qualified position to be part of the Consortium.

“The impact of TAMIU teacher preparation is undeniable in South Texas. We prepare 100% of the traditionally trained teachers working in the schools within our 100-mile zone of influence (ZOI). Typically, 80% of our TAMIU graduates are still working in our ZOI 10 years after graduation. Collectively, their efforts contribute to all schools in the district, exceeding State benchmarks for graduation rates, achievement levels on reading/math, and closing achievement gaps in reading/math performance. To the best of my knowledge, no other teacher preparation program can support a similar claim of impact on student achievement, and we are committed to continuing to be a lead change agent in identifying and training teachers to lead our City, ZOI, state, nation and the world forward,” O’Meara said.

He noted the importance of a diverse teaching force has been borne out by research.

“Current research shows that teachers of color help close achievement gaps for students of color and are highly rated by students of all races. When teachers look like their students, we call it demographic match … and this results in a higher level of student achievement. At TAMIU, graduates represent an exceptionally high level of demographic match, specifically, there is less than 1% variation between the teachers we produce and the learners they teach.   Regrettably, although more teachers of color are being recruited nationally, that increase is slow and attrition rates high.  This creates growing gaps between the demand for such teachers and the supply,” he explained.

As a lead State institution in the project, TAMIU has a three-pronged role, O’Meara said.

“TAMIU will collaborate with State stakeholders, disseminate Consortium finds and model state policies to leaders and policymakers and advocate for equitable practices to attract more diverse candidates into EPP to address diversity and shortage crises,” O’Meara said. 

He noted the CREA has great potential to diversity the nation’s teacher workforce.

“The cross-collaborative nature of CREA provides a platform through which participants may enhance the policies and practices within their respective states. We’ll discuss the successes and challenges of our EPP entrance and exit requirements and consider how changes to the system can diversify the teacher workforce while also preparing quality teacher candidates,” he observed.

The CREA member-states and lead EPPs include California and Cal State University San Bernardino, Delaware and Wilmington University, Indiana and Indiana University Bloomington, Kentucky and University of Louisville, and Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas.

Also, Missouri and Lindenwood University, New Mexico and Western New Mexico University, North Carolina and University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Ohio and Ohio University, Rhode Island and University of Rhode Island, South Carolina and Claflin University, Tennessee and University of Tennessee Knoxville, Texas and The Texas A&M University System, and Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

To find out more about TAMIU’s College of Education and its undergraduate and graduate degree programs and its educator preparation programs, visit tamiu.edu/coedu, email coeinformation@tamiu.edu or call 956.326.2420.

To learn more about CREA, visit here