From the Field

Bias in the Air: Teachers’ Implicit Racial Attitudes

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Implicit bias involves prejudicial behaviors or judgments that take place outside of conscious awareness. Subsequently, identifying implicit racial biases in teachers and educators has potential consequences for students. While there is extensive theory, literature, and conversation around teacher implicit racial bias and its impact on students, extensive supporting research and data remains limited in scope and depth.

In Bias in the Air: A Nationwide Exploration of Teachers’ Implicit Racial Attitudes, Aggregate Bias, and Student Outcomes, researchers Mark J. Chin, David M. Quinn, Tasminda K. Dhaliwal, and Virginia S. Lovison help fill the gap in knowledge and descriptive facts. Using nationwide data, they found that implicit bias correlated with lower test scores and higher rates of suspension for black students. The problem was more prevalent in counties with smaller shares of black students, and less prevalent among women teachers and teachers of color.

The study serves as a foundation for future research and potential new questions, which become more pressing with both a growing population of K-12 students of color and a climate of explicit racist attitudes.

By Andrew Edghill