Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Michael A. Gottfried


For decades, calls for an increase in the number of minority teachers have led local, state, and federal policy conversations. However, specific barriers to entry into the teaching profession for Black pre-service teachers have received less attention. Moreover, the minimally existing research on the topic is mixed. Despite being the most affected by barriers to entry into the teaching profession, little research has investigated how barriers specifically impact Black pre-service teachers during the teacher training or Educator Preparation Provider (EPP) process. This study examines one possible cause: licensure exams, of which Black test-takers have had the lowest pass rates of all racial or ethnic demographic groups since the inception of the exam.

First, this study will thoroughly review existing literature on the various theoretical barriers to entry for Black pre-service teachers, including coursework, field experiences, and licensure exams. Next, the impact of a licensure exam policy change on Black test taker pass rates in Arkansas will be assessed using various descriptive data and the difference-in-differences estimator methodology. This study hypothesizes a change in licensure exam type has negatively impacted the Black teacher workforce in Arkansas, specifically elementary school teachers. Finally, recommendations for state and federal policy and practice will be discussed.