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Center for the Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Educators

South Carolina Center for the Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Educators

Finding the best strategies for minority teacher recruitment and retention

THE SOUTH CAROLINA Center for the Recruitment & Retention of Diverse Educators

Based at Clemson University, the South Carolina Center for the Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Educators (CREDE) is researching, designing, and implementing the best strategies for recruiting and retaining diverse teachers, both pre-service and in-service, in the state of South Carolina

We also recognize context matters. Our center aims to provide locally-identified solutions to locally-identified problems through our close relationships with our partners throughout the state. Explore our website for information on what we do with the Center to achieve this aim.

Dr. Roy Jones

“Before we wrote a single word of the proposal, we met with as many people as we could from each focus area and listened to what they had to say. They liked what they heard, but they also made it clear that growing their own educators from their own communities was vital to addressing the problem.”

Dr. Roy Jones
Director, SC-CREDE
Clemson University College of Education

Our Mission

The purpose of the SC Center of Excellence for the Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Educators is to research, design, and implement the best strategies for recruitment and retention of teachers of color at the preservice and inservice levels in the state of South Carolina. Education research suggests that all students benefit from having a diverse teacher workforce, but the positive short- and long-term impacts on educational attainment experienced by low income students of color are especially pronounced (Anderson, 2015; Strauss, 2017). South Carolina, with its education system ranked 48th among all states in 2018, has had acute educational challenges despite a growing economy, in part explained by high inequality in educational and employment opportunities by race (U.S. News & World Report, 2018). Given the largest teacher shortages are concentrated in schools with higher proportions of students of color (Hansen & Quintero, 2018), recruiting and retaining highly effective teachers of color and increasing their placement into vacancies in the most disadvantaged schools is an important step in improving education and employment outcomes across the state.

The Center works in collaboration with partners to develop and support comprehensive plans for identifying and developing teacher talent, to create greater demographic parity between the state’s teacher workforce and its student population. Partners include P-12 school districts, two-year colleges, four-year universities, the SC Dept. of Education (SCDE), education-focused organizations, and industry. Due to the localized nature of teacher labor markets, the Center’s approach is to leverage a “home-grown” model to recruit and develop teachers of color from within school communities. This approach has been suggested as a promising avenue to address teacher shortages and increase teacher retention, especially in high-poverty, diverse school districts (Dee & Goldhaber, 2017).


  • Challenges In Our State

    South Carolina faces a combination of unique challenges that further support the need for targeted recruitment and retention efforts from within the communities where schools are located. Approximately 40% of students in the state attend school in a rural district (Johnson et al., 2014). Overall childhood poverty rates are among the highest in the nation, with 43% of Black children and 45% of Hispanic children living in poverty and often concentrated in rural areas (NCCP, 2016). Schools in these high-poverty, demographically diverse rural districts face constant staffing challenges. Low compensation and guidance for new teachers, low student performance, and limited resources result in geographic, social, and professional isolation and a persistent churn of teachers in and out of schools (Appleseed Legal Justice Center, 2015; Garrett & Von Nessen, 2016; Reeves, 2003, Aragon, 2016).

    Attaining stability in staffing in these districts, though challenging, is also important because research suggests that low-income students are particularly dependent on their teachers to navigate educational challenges. South Carolina also faces an overall teacher shortage that has been growing annually in recent years. Districts reported 550 teaching positions unfilled at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year, a 16% rise from the previous year (CERRA, 2018). This shortage appears to result from both recruitment and retention issues, with South Carolina seeing a 30% drop in students graduating with teacher certification-eligible Bachelor’s degrees in the last four years, and 22% of first-year teachers hired in the 2016-2017 no longer teaching in any school district in the state (CERRA, 2018). Given this combination of hiring challenges, it is not surprising that in the 2015-2016 the state had 48.4% minority students but only 17.5% teachers of color (SCDE, 2017).

  • Building Retention Into Recruitment

    Research over the last two decades suggests that the disparity in demographic representation between teachers of color and White teachers has been shifting from being an issue of recruitment to one of retention. Over this period, the number of teachers of color almost doubled and has a growth rate that far exceeds that of White teachers (Ingersoll & May, 2011). Yet, teachers of color are also almost three times as likely to work in disadvantaged schools. Unlike their White counterparts, their turnover rates from these schools are not significantly related to challenging school demographics, such as high poverty. Rather, teacher turnover rates for teachers of color, which are higher than those of their White counterparts, are related to organizational conditions and leadership that tend to be disproportionately negative in schools at which teachers of color are more often employed (Ingersoll & May, 2011).

    Studies suggest that retaining teachers of color, especially those new to the profession, requires systematic consideration of factors such as administrative support, mentoring, classroom autonomy, and school decision-making influence, rather than factors such as professional development (PD), classroom resources, and salary (Bednar & Gicheva, 2016; Ingersoll & May, 2011). These concerns were reflected in discussions the Clemson University team had with teachers and administrators from partner school districts and neighboring 2-year and 4-year higher education institutions during the development of the Center.

    Since 2011, several states including Connecticut, Colorado, and Maryland, have undertaken efforts to better understand local processes that underlie teacher shortages and enhance their teacher pipelines. There are several points of confluence in the strategic recommendations made by these states and the Center’s approach, in spite of a great deal of geographic, demographic, and economic differences: (1) expanding early recruitment efforts; (2) leveraging two-year institutions to lower financial and academic barriers to teacher preparation; (3) building informational and mentoring support systems for teachers; and, most resoundingly, (4) building relationships (Martin, 2011; MD Dept. of Education, 2013). As stated in a recent report to the Colorado Department of Education (Palaich et al., 2014, p.4):

  • Our Partners

    School Districts


    CCSD is the second-largest school system in South Carolina and serves more than 50,000 students in 87 schools and specialized programs.


    OOCSD enrolls over 10,000 students in 32 schools. In July 2019, a merger went into effect creating the newly consolidated district.


    Cherokee 01 serves nearly 9,000 students in the Upstate area across 19 schools.


    Located primarily in the city of Spartanburg, D7 enrolls 7400 students in 14 schools, including 8 elementary schools, two middle schools and the flagship Spartanburg High School.

    Four-year Institutions


    Claflin University is a private historically black university in Orangeburg, South Carolina offering Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. It is the oldest historically black college or university in the state.


    Limestone University, formerly College, is a private university in Gaffney, South Carolina. Limestone was the first women's college in the state and one of the first in the nation.


    Located in Charleston, South Carolina, the College of Charleston is a public liberal arts and sciences university serving over 10,000 undergraduates and approximately 1,000 graduate students.


    South Carolina State University is a public historically black university in Orangeburg, South Carolina. It is the only public, historically black land-grant institution in the state.

    Clemson University Institutional Support


    The Clemson University Office of Inclusion and Equity is taking a holistic approach to carrying out the goals and objectives outlined in the Clemson Elevate strategic plan to embrace and promote an inclusive environment for higher learning.


    Clemson University’s College of Education is a transformative leader in systematically improving education, beginning at birth. We train teachers, counselors and leaders for P-12 schools; prepare counselors to serve in communities; train student affairs practitioners, administrators and faculty to serve in higher education; and prepare training and development specialists for business and industry. But we do even more.

    Two-year Institutions


    Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award Associate in Arts, Associate in Science and Associate in Applied Science degrees, diplomas and certificates. It is a comprehensive two-year technical college that provides training for jobs in new and expanding industries, upgrading programs for workers already employed and university transfer opportunities.


    Trident Technical College is a public, two-year, multi campus technical college that provides offers degree programs in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties.


    Spartanburg Community College is a state-supported two-year technical and community college offering certificate, diploma and associate degree programs in the Arts & Sciences, business technology, health & human services, engineering and industrial technology fields. SCC currently serves Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union counties.



    CERRA is the oldest and most established teacher recruitment program in the country. The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, & Advancement was established by the Commission on Higher Education in December 1985 and is funded by the South Carolina General Assembly. Following the passage of the state's landmark Education Improvement Act, CERRA was created out of a concern for the condition of South Carolina's teacher supply pool and a need for a centralized teacher recruitment effort.


    The Office of School Transformation works on programs with South Carolina schools to ensure all students perform at high levels, the learning environment is innovative, stakeholders collaborate, and opportunity is the norm.


    Palmetto State Teachers Association was organized in 1976 to give South Carolina teachers a choice of professional associations and has grown to be the largest association for educators in South Carolina.  


    The Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty was established at Francis Marion University in 2004. With a dual focus on in-service teacher professional learning and preservice teacher development, the Center is now recognized as the premier resource for supporting educators seeking strategies for improving the quality of education for under-resourced students and all learners.

  • Our Team
    Roy Jones


    Dr. Roy Jones is a professor and the executive director for the College of Education's Call Me MISTER® Program at Clemson University. Previously, Dr. Jones was associate professor in the Division of Education at Claflin University. Dr. Jones served as chair of the Division of Education during the period Claflin received the distinction of becoming the first historically black private institution in the State to receive the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation. From 1990 to 1998, Dr. Jones served as Director of Employment for the Charleston County School District and was responsible for the district's teacher and classified recruitment programs.

    Luke Rapa.jpg


    Dr. Rapa's is an assistant professor of education and human development at Clemson University and he serves as co-director of CREDE. Rapa’s research is primarily focused on the development of youth navigating adversity, marginalization, and inequitable social conditions, including the exploration of how contextual, sociocultural, and sociopolitical factors (including socioeconomic disadvantage, structural constraints, and societal inequality) shape key developmental and psychological processes and shape adolescent's development and academic success.


    Winston Hilton serves as a field coordinator for the College of Education at Clemson University.


    Mark Joseph currently serves as an assistant professor and the director of the Call Me MISTER program at Anderson University.

  • Contact Us

How We Research, Develop & Implement the Best Strategies

Theory of Change for the Center's Activities

The Center’s plan for identifying and developing talent in teachers of color works for greater demographic parity between the state’s teacher workforce and its student population. Our approach centers on leveraging a “home-grown” model to recruit and develop teachers of color from within school communities, which is a promising avenue to address persistent teacher shortages and increase teacher retention—especially in high-poverty, diverse school districts (Dee & Goldhaber, 2017). In order to accomplish this, the Center’s activities work towards the following goals and objectives:

  1. Research & Dissemination: Increase foundational understanding of practice and policy.
  2. Recruitment: Increase the recruitment of prospective and pre-service teachers of color
  3. Retention: Increase the retention of in-service teachers of color.

A Triad Partnership

Building a pipeline of teachers of color that leverages long-term relationships with the community and its P-12 and higher education institutions, and provides seamless transitions for students of color from education to employment, has growing support; it is achieved through systemic development of local talent (Barthet al., 2016). As such, the Center has not partnered solely with school districts but also with a triad of institutions in each region, including a P-12 district, a 2-year college, and a 4-year university. The triad represents the entire home-grown teacher pipeline.

Importantly, the Center’s activities have been built around these triad partnerships in order to enable specific stakeholder groups within the triads to have meaningful interactions on an ongoing basis. This triad structure allows all triad partners to engage meaningfully and contribute significantly to the work of the Center, meaning all stakeholders will be essential to the identification of problems and the development of solutions regarding recruitment and retention of teachers of color within our State.

Our Socio-Ecological Plan


Originating in the interdisciplinary fields of Public Health and Prevention Science, the Socio-Ecological Model posits that individual behavior and decision-making (such as the decision to become a teacher) is not just the function of individual characteristics, but rather is a function of a dynamic network of individual characteristics (e.g., individual skills and dispositions), interpersonal processes (e.g., professional mentorships; teacher-principal interactions), institutional factors (e.g., district recruitment budgets), community features (e.g., alignment of curricula across P-12 and higher education), and public policy (e.g., loan forgiveness programs for teachers). As such, widespread changes in individual behaviors and decision-making are achieved not just through intervention at the individual level, but through intervention activities that remove barriers and increase assets at every level of the system.

The Center, built on this approach, aims to increase the number of teachers of color in partner districts by 75 over its first 5 years of operation. This translates to a 10% increase in representation in teachers of color in the teacher workforce (from 27% to 37%) in our partner schools, based on baseline data.

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