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By Chuck Dobrosielski, The Diamondback

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Elpus

With his recent finding that minorities are underrepresented among candidates for music teacher licenses, one University of Maryland professor is hoping to learn more about diversity in the field.

Kenneth Elpus, a university music professor, found in a study published in October in the Journal of Research in Music Education that 86 percent of music teacher licensure candidates identified as white.

“One of the interesting things of this study is the proportion of students who are seeking licensure in music teaching are not representative of the population of adults or college-going undergraduates, or even representative of the current population of music teachers,” Elpus said.

Elpus said his research was the first to examine diversity in music education licensing on a large scale. He analyzed data from the Educational Testing Service on individuals’ scores on the Praxis II, the standard in 33 states for improving teaching proficiency. 

Since not every state has the same standard for passing, he looked at how many people scored above the median of all passing scores and analyzed the demographic breakdown.

The demographic breakdown of those who have had music education for four years in high school did not match that of those who are licensure candidates, he said. But he’s unsure why.

It’s “an interesting result for the profession to grapple with,” Elpus said. “Is that an issue of access and opportunity, or is that an issue of self-selection? Is what we’re teaching somehow not interesting to certain members of the population?” 

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