A 24-year-old grant program aimed at increasing the racial diversity of Minnesota’s teaching force isn’t making much of a difference, according to the program’s first in-depth study.
The Collaborative Urban and Greater Minnesota Educators of Color grant program “has thus far been largely unsuccessful,” the Office of the Legislative Auditor concluded in a report Tuesday.
The auditor found the program “may have helped prevent the portion of teachers who are people of color or American Indian from decreasing, but that portion has not increased in a significant way.”
Last year, around 95 percent of the state’s public school teachers were white, compared to just 66 percent of its students.
There’s widespread agreement that increasing the ranks of Minnesota’s teachers of color is an important strategy for raising the academic performance of its students of color, and state lawmakers are hearing multiple proposals on the subject this session.
The audit report was limited to CUGMEC, just one of Minnesota’s tools for achieving that goal. Created in 1997, it was funded at $970,000 this year.
Public and private colleges compete for funding, which is spent primarily on scholarships but also staff mentors and advisors and ancillary costs.
The Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board has administered the program since 2020, taking over for the state Department of Education.
The audit examined what happened in the grant program between 2016 and 2020, during which 10 colleges spent $2.85 million on 590 teaching candidates.
The audit found 39 percent of those beneficiaries have graduated and 46 percent still are enrolled. The other 15 percent either dropped out or are taking a break from college.
Zeroing in on 171 candidates who graduated between 2016 and 2019, the audit found:
- 67 percent had passed a licensure exam and obtained a standard teaching license.
- 20 percent did not pass an exam and received a temporary license.
- 13 percent did not get a license.
Of those graduates, 74 percent went on to work in a Minnesota public school after graduating, and 68 percent still were working for one in 2019-20.
With some 70,000 teachers working in Minnesota public schools, the program’s graduates are barely making a dent on the teacher-of-color shortage. The state would need to add around 3,000 teachers of color in order to double their ranks to 10 percent of the field.
The audit reached no conclusions about whether the state should continue to rely on CUGMEC, as opposed to other programs, such as Grow Your Own, which got $1.5 million this year. That’s partly because they could not isolate its contributions. Colleges mingle grants with other program dollars, the funds are spent in a variety of ways, and recipients include undergraduates, graduate students and even high schoolers.
“This makes it nearly impossible to determine the overall impact,” the audit found.
Auditors recommended that lawmakers clarify the program’s goals and invest in better data collection.