Year 6 Project Overview: Connecticut Talent Pipeline and Cultural Proficiency

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) is concerned that the talent pipeline for ensuring students in low-performing schools are taught by effective educators is woefully inadequate. Data points to problems in program completion for educators of color, disproportionate ratios of students of color to staff of color in low-performing schools, and high attrition from low-performing schools. In addition, educators lack preparation for working successfully with students and families of color, therefore creating unfavorable conditions for students of color to achieve to their potential. Through a root cause analysis, CSDE has identified cultural competence in the educator workforce as a strategy for addressing gaps in equitable access to effective educators.

NCC is collaborating with the Center for Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center) and CSDE to plan and implement a professional learning series for CSDE leaders and leadership teams from Opportunity Districts identified as in need of improvement. As a result of the GTL Center/NCC assistance, CSDE will: 1) have professional learning resources that build educators’ cultural competence, and 2) have developed and begun to implement plans to address priority gaps in the talent pipeline.

Progress to Date

  • NCC has collaborated with the Center for Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center) and the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to design and lead three all-day professional learning and work sessions on Examining Unconscious Bias in the Hiring and Selection Process. These sessions are part of a long-term series being designed and led by GTL and NCC for Building the Cultural Competence of the Educator Workforce.  Participants in the series include district teams from seven priority high needs districts, along with representatives from several educational organizations including a parent advocacy group, teacher preparation programs, teacher and administrator associations, and school boards association. The professional learning and work to date has included conducting comprehensive assessments of district talent systems, collecting and analyzing statewide and district level talent data to identify gaps in representation of educators of color, engaging in learning and reflective practice related to unconscious bias, and identifying strategies to mitigate bias in the hiring and selection process. Districts are underway in implementing new or amended policies and practices to reduce gaps in educators of color. Future sessions will focus on issues of bias related to educator attrition and how districts can implement strategies to improve the retention of educators of color. A longer-term goal is for CSDE to develop cultural competence in the educator workforce across the pipeline from teacher preparation through career advancement.

Research, Resources and Collaborations

Several resources have been developed to support the professional learning of session participants:

  • Cultural Competence Professional Learning Framework: This framework illustrates the approach to building cultural competence which starts with beliefs as the foundation which informs all practices and systems. It is based on the theory that, without understanding the beliefs about race and difference in general, efforts to change practices and systems will not address root causes of inequities in the pipeline. The work is therefore designed to engage participants in examining their own biases as well as those that may undergird practices and systems as they currently operate.
  • Examining Culturally Competent Hiring Practices through a Lens of Racial Equity: Self-Assessment Tool: The GTL Center developed this Self-Assessment Tool that districts are using throughout the workshop series. The assessment tool consists of 38 Likert scale items for which district educators rate their practices in five key areas: organizational culture, talent needs, attracting a diverse workforce, selecting and hiring, and supporting and developing workforce diversity. Participants complete sections of the self-assessment during inter-session periods.
  • Presentation materials for the January 11, 2018, April 27, 2018, and May 30, 2018 sessions include agendas, research-based information, and activities during the meeting and for intersession periods.


Contact Person

For more information, contact Kathy Dunne at

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