Giving Compass' Take:

• Kevin Mahnken lists research-backed reasons that black students benefit from having black teachers. 

• How can funders help increase teacher diversity? 

• Learn about the diversity gap between students and teachers

Though the issue of racial and gender representation in the classroom is not a new one, the past decade has seen a wealth of new evidence on how students react to being taught by people who look like them.

  1. Black Students Benefit: Although the magnitude of the effects can differ, numerous research studies into the question of racial matching (the pairing of a given student with a teacher of the same racial or ethnic background) point to the same conclusion: All things being equal, black students do better when they’ve been taught by black teachers.
  2. It’s About More Than Test Scores: For the long-term impact of racial matching, there is no research more striking than a study of North Carolina students circulated last year by Seth Gershenson, Cassandra Hart, Constance Lindsay, and Nicholas Papageorge. In a finding that gained headlines around the country — though it hasn’t yet been validated by peer review — the group reported that exposure to just one black teacher between grades 3 and 5 significantly reduced the high school dropout rate among black male students. Additionally, black students of both sexes were more likely to take a college entrance exam or to say that they intended to go to college.
  3. Why Does Matching Work? The Need for Role Models is One Answer: So why are we seeing these effects? Researchers offer a few answers, but one involves the “role model effect”: Simply seeing a person who looks like you in a professional setting could make you more likely to attain a higher level of education yourself.
  4. Another Reason? Expectations Matter: The other hypothesis revolves around the power of expectations, and how they differ among racial groups. Multiple studies have suggested that white teachers simply have lower expectations of black students than of white students.
  5. Matching Also Offers a Unique Window on School Discipline: A 2015 study conducted by Stanford social psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt found that white teachers were more apt to recommend stricter punishments for students with stereotypically “black-sounding” names like Darnell or Deshawn, even when the hypothetical transgressions were no different from white students’.

Read the full article about black Teachers and students by Kevin Mahnken at The 74.