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Pathways Into Teaching: A Mixed-Methods Investigation of High-Leverage Opportunities to Increase Representation of Teachers of Color in Tennessee Schools


Jul 01, 2022


Jun 30, 2026
Funding Agency
Vanderbilt University and the Institute of Education Sciences

Matthew Ronfeldt, Ph.D. and colleagues from Vanderbilt University will lead a mixed-methods study that intends to understand what factors are influencing students of color to pursue (from as early as high school) a pathway in the teaching profession and what factors may be dissuading them, with the ultimate aim of identifying ways to diversify the teaching workforce in Tennessee. The main questions are 1.) Where are the leaks in the pipeline for teachers of color? and 2.) Where are the highest-leverage opportunities for intervention to increase the representation of teachers of color in teaching?


Multiple lines of inquiry will be pursued. First, the project team will use historical (P20) pipeline data which links all high school students in Tennessee with postsecondary and workforce data. Using the P20 data the team will examine predictors of high school and postsecondary students of color pursuing a teacher certification program and becoming a teacher, and how these predictors have changed over time. In another line of inquiry, the team will conduct interviews, surveys and focus groups with people of color at various stages of the pipeline to better understand their perspectives on why they do or do not choose to pursue a teaching career. The ultimate goal is to identify high-leverage opportunities for intervening in the pipeline to increase the likelihood that prospective teachers of color enter the teaching workforce, and eventually design interventions to this effect.

Primary Investigator(s)

Professor, Marsal Family School of Education; Faculty Associate, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research

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