Millwood finding more African American teachers with emergency certification

… classroom management. Hester, who is African American, teaches ninth-grade history and … has used to hire more African American educators. Apprentice teachers are new …

Millwood finding more African American teachers with emergency certification

Emergency certifications are a symptom of Oklahoma’s teacher shortage, but they’ve become a key way for a predominantly black school district in Oklahoma City to increase its African American staff.

Millwood Public Schools has created a teaching staff that more closely resembles its student population by hiring emergency-certified teachers, Superintendent Cecilia Robinson-Woods said. Emergency-certified teachers have at least a bachelor’s degree but no teaching license.

Research says this could be meaningful at Millwood, where the student body is 87% black and 6.6% mixed race.

“We’re looking for a certain type of teacher that meets the needs of students and is willing to learn and willing to make the commitment and understand our population,” Robinson-Woods said. “In looking for that person, a bonus would be that they’re a minority.”

Education research has shown outcomes improve for African American students who have at least one teacher of their same race. African American students who have a black teacher by third grade are 13% more likely to enroll in college and 7% more likely to graduate high school, according to a 2017 study from Johns Hopkins University and American University.

Currently, 11 of Millwood’s 70 teachers are emergency certified, and all but one of those emergency certified teachers are African American. Millwood staff is about 75% black, up from a 55%-to-45% split when Robinson-Woods was hired seven years ago.

“Really what’s happening is they’re answering a need that’s going unmet,” state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said. “We know that our students do perform academically better and, frankly, social-emotionally when they are working with a more diverse population, one that reflects their own story.”

Oklahoma is experiencing a lack of teachers entering the profession out of college, particularly teachers of color, Hofmeister said.