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Black Women Teachers Have Highest Expectations of Black Students, Study Shows

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A recently released study from the Johns Hopkins University Economics of Education Review shows that there are significant differences in how white, Black, and Hispanic teachers view the abilities and potential of Black students.

White teachers expect that Black students will achieve less. Black female teachers are more optimistic about the abilities of Black students than any other group.
According to Johns Hopkins:

When a black teacher and a white teacher evaluate the same black student, the white teacher is about 30 percent less likely to predict the student will complete a four-year college degree, the study found. White teachers are also almost 40 percent less likely to expect their black students will graduate high school.
The study analyzed data on 8,400 10th grade students. Two different teachers were asked to predict how much education a student they'd taught would obtain.  Teachers tended to agree on the potential of white students. But there were large disparities in expectation of black students.

The paper's co-author Nicholas Papageorge says that these low expectations may affect how students perform. "If I'm a teacher and decide that a student isn't any good, I may be communicating that to the student," he said. "A teacher telling a student they're not smart will weigh heavily on how that student feels about their future and perhaps the effort they put into doing well in school."
The study also shows.

  • White and other non-black teachers were 12 percentage points more likely than black teachers to predict black students wouldn't finish high school.
  • Non-black teachers were 5 percent more likely to predict their black male students wouldn't graduate high school than their black female students.
  • Black female teachers are significantly more optimistic about the ability of black boys to complete high school than teachers of any other demographic group. They were 20 percent less likely than white teachers to predict their student wouldn't graduate high school, and 30 percent less likely to say that then black male teachers.
  • White male teachers are 10 to 20 percent more likely to have low expectations for black female students.
  • Math teachers were significantly more likely to have low expectations for female students.
  • For black students, particularly black boys, having a non-black teacher in a 10th grade subject made them much less likely to pursue that subject by enrolling in similar classes. This suggests biased expectations by teachers have long-term effects on student outcomes, the researchers said.

The complete study is now available online.

Photograph by iStockPhoto

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