DISSERTATION DEFENSE ANNOUNCEMENT Ed.D. Program: Sharlene Laud “Enhancing Teacher Diversity in New Jersey: Investigating the Career Decision-Making and Experiences of Teachers of Color in Alternative Route to Certification”

10:45 am - 12:00 pm

In the United States, there exists a significant disparity between the racial demographics of teachers and students, with a majority of educators being white. This mismatch underscores the critical shortage of teachers of color (TOC). While race does not determine teacher quality, a teacher’s race, ethnicity, and language do shape the experiences they bring into their classroom. As a result, a teacher’s identity impacts the academic, emotional, and social support they offer students. Diversifying the teaching force to better reflect the student population is imperative. Understanding how individuals enter the teaching workforce is an important part of this endeavor, with pathways including traditional teacher preparation programs and alternative certification or alternate route (AR) educator preparation programs.

This study focuses on investigating the career decision-making and experiences of TOC in AR certification to enhance teacher diversity in New Jersey. Conducted at Rutgers University, a large public institution in New Jersey offering both traditional and AR teacher certification programs, the study employs an explanatory sequential mixed methodology. The first phase collected quantitative data through a survey to provide a general understanding of what personal and contextual factors contribute to one’s interest in teaching, the choice to complete AR, and ultimately success in the program. The second phase was qualitative one-on-one interviews and document reviews, providing deeper insights into the factors affecting participants’ AR experience.

The findings of this study offer a deeper understanding of the career-decision making and experience of TOC that chose the AR. When developing an interest in a career in teaching, family, financial considerations, and perceptions of the teaching field emerged as the most influential factors. When choosing the AR as their certification pathway, timing, experiences, and relationships were revealed to be dominant factors in decision-making. Reflecting on their AR experience, participants highlight the significance of peer and professional support networks, while also navigating challenges posed by state certification requirements and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These insights can inform recruitment, support, and retention strategies within AR programs aimed at attracting and retaining TOC to diversify the teaching workforce.

To access the Zoom link required to attend, please contact academic.services@gse.rutgers.edu.