Behind the Headline: White Teachers and Black Teachers Have Different Expectations for Black Students

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White Teachers and Black Teachers Have Different Expectations for Black Students
Chicago Tribune | 4/3/2016

Behind the Headline
Education Without Representation
Education Next blog | 3/16/15

ednext-ototn-april16-chicagotribA new study finds that, when evaluating the same black student, white teachers expect significantly less academic success than black teachers.

The study, which will be published in the Economics of Education Review, asked teachers of high school sophomores to predict how far each of their students would go in school.

As summarized by Emma Brown:

When a white (or other non-black) teacher and a black teacher evaluate the same black student, the study found, the white teacher is 30 percent less likely to believe that the student will graduate from a four-year college — and 40 percent less likely to believe the student will graduate from high school. The discrepancy was even greater for black male students.

A study by Brian Kisida, Anna Egalite, and Marcus Winters that was published in the Economics of Education Review last year found that black, white, and Asian students benefit from being assigned to a teacher of the same ethnicity as them, and that elementary-aged black students and lower-performing students seem to particularly benefit from having a demographically-similar teacher.

Kisida and Egalite wrote in a blog entry for Education Next:

Given these findings, it is certainly possible that the “diversity gap” between students and teachers is a contributing factor to the persistent achievement gap between minority and white students. And though the effects we measure are small, it is likely that these effects could compound over multiple years of experiencing a demographically-similar teacher. Moreover, it is likely that student achievement, though easily measured, is not where the bulk of the effects would be largest. Self-efficacy, educational aspirations, self-esteem, and attainment make much more sense as potential outcomes that would change as a result of demographically-similar role models. Small gains in student achievement may only be the tip of the iceberg.

As the diversity of students in our schools continues to grow, the arguments for policies meant to improve representation among teachers have more and more evidence to support them.

—Education Next

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