Study of Bilingual/ESL Teacher Recruitment
 and Retention Practices in Texas School Districts
Executive Summary
Principal Investigators:
Rafael Lara-Alecio
Martha Galloway
Doug Palmer
Victor Arizpe
Beverly J. Irby
Linda Rodriguez
Lakshmi Mahadevan
By the turn of the century it had been estimated that up to 40 % of the children in the nation’s
classrooms would be non-White, with Hispanics as the majority. Indeed, according to the latest
U.S. Census report, Hispanics have surged past African Americans and now constitute the largest
minority group in the United States. In Texas schools, Hispanics constitute 48% of the student
demographics, while there are only 17% Hispanic teachers. With the Hispanics being the largest
ethnic majority, there comes an increased awareness of the numbers of English language learner
(ELL) students in schools and the need for certified teachers to teach these students. In Texas,
the ELL population is at 13%, while there is only an 8% teacher population serving
bilingual/ESL education. Not only is there a discrepancy in teacher/student populations, there is
also a shortage of bilingual/ESL teachers. In Texas, a study conducted by Texas A&M
University determined that the greatest teacher shortage in 2001-2002 occurred in the elementary
bilingual/ESL area where figures soared to 2,906; the study also determined that school districts
were unable to fill 40% of open secondary bilingual/ESL positions.
Our research addressed three of the top priorities set forth by the Texas A&M Regents’
1. An analysis and evaluation of efforts by districts to recruit teachers to serve
bilingual/ESL populations
2. The ways in which districts can “grow their own” certified teachers for bilingual/ESL
3. The identification and evaluation of practices to recruit college students in the high
need discipline of bilingual/ESL education.
The project objectives were as follows: 
1. To determine efforts by districts to recruit and retain teachers who serve
bilingual/ESL populations
2. To determine ways in which districts participate in “growing their own” certified
3. To identify practices to recruit and retain college students in the high need discipline
of bilingual/ESL education.
4. To develop an online clearinghouse of practices currently in use by districts and
universities to recruit college students in the high need discipline area of bilingual/ESL
Specifically the research was guided by the following three major research questions:
1. What main strategies/policies/activities are school districts in Texas implementing to
the critical shortage of bilingual/ESL teachers?
2. What strategies/policies/activities to districts in Texas apply to retain bilingual/ESL
3. Which districts in Texas attract the most (least) bilingual/ESL teachers, and what are
the key factors for doing so?
Research Design
Our study was a statewide survey that collected data from superintendents on the key elements of
bilingual/ESL teacher recruitment and retention.
Data Collection Procedures
The Survey. The Texas A&M University Bilingual /ESL Teacher Retention and Recruitment
Coalition developed a survey based on literature and questionnaires found in the review of
literature that related to teacher retention and recruitment. The survey was piloted with 15
regional administrators to determine its face validity. The internal consistency was established
using Cronbach’s alpha (α=.89). Once the survey was finalized, it consisted of 41 items
composed of both open-ended and forced choice questions and was delivered through the
Internet to all superintendents in Texas that had an e-mail address (N=926). This e-mail list of
superintendents was supplied by the Texas Association of School Administrators. Participation
was voluntary and confidential. The survey was launched in October 2002 and was closed in
November 2002. Participants logged on to the designated website and completed the survey.
Participants. Total responses numbered 635 (68% return rate); however, a total of 467
respondents returned the information with no missing demographic data. Those are the data that
were used in the calculations of the reported demographic data.
The total population from which the sample was drawn represented 926 Texas Superintendents
with email addresses. Total respondents were 635 (68% return rate). Respondents without
missing demographic data totaled 467 Texas Superintendents (50% of the e-mail superintendent
Selected Major Findings
Our study found that the majority of bilingual/ESL teaching vacancies are occurring in suburban
and urban districts where the majority of the ELL student population are situated and in bilingual
programs, not ESL programs. The majority of the superintendent respondents believed that
recruitment of bilingual/ESL teachers was difficult, yet they placed a high priority on
recruitment. In summary, there are several variables that superintendents related to recruitment
and retention of bilingual/ESL teachers in Texas, and, based on those variables, specific
strategies that superintendents may consider as they successfully attempt to recruit and retain
bilingual/ESL teachers can be gleaned:
 Make recruitment a priority
 Provide stipends
 Provide health insurance
 Provide professional development opportunities via funds
 Actively recruit via newspapers, websites, career fairs and colleges
 Engage Educational Service Centers in assisting with recruitment, certification, and staff
 Recruit at home and within the state
 Encourage paraprofessionals to obtain their degrees and provide them support to do so
 Encourage teaching staff to obtain a bilingual or ESL certificate and assist financially
 Provide a formal mentoring/induction program
 Pay attention to numbers of ELL students in the district and the trend to determine needs.
Texas superintendents, no matter what their specific ethnicity, gender, or years of service, are
concerned statewide with the recruitment and retention of bilingual and ESL teachers. They
recognize the shortage, and the majority place a priority on recruitment of such teachers. One
superintendent stated, “Bilingual/ESL teachers are in great demand and merit much more
recognition than school districts give them today. These teachers are faced with many obstacles
in the classroom including translating and developing their own teaching materials. If salaries
matched the work demand, perhaps we could keep them and attract others to the field.”
Recommendations for Policy Makers
We recommend that superintendents implement “grow your own” programs, utilize the Texas
Educational Aide Exemption College Grant Program, and work closely with university teacher
preparation programs and Educational Service Centers to create the best routes to teacher
certification. We also recommend that school boards provide teaching stipends to the critical
shortage teaching area of bilingual/ESL education. Considering recruitment and retention of
bilingual/ESL teachers as a priority may be a key in aiding superintendents and school boards in
limiting the inconsistencies that exist between ELL student populations and the certified teachers
that serve them.