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The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers

As racial gaps in educational attainment persist, research is demonstrating an effective factor in narrowing those gaps: same-race teacher. Five researchers—Seth Gershenson, Cassandra M. D. Hart, Joshua Hyman, Constance Lindsay, and Nicholas W. Papageorge—have worked to determine the numerical impact of teacher race on student outcomes, with their results summarized in the working paper, The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers.

The researchers used random student-teacher pairings from the Tennessee STAR class-size experiment and found that Black students randomly assigned to a Black teacher at least once in kindergarten through third grade are 5 percentage points (or 7 percent) more likely to graduate from high school than their peers in the same school who are assigned a teacher who isn’t Black. Additionally, these students are 4 percentage points (or 13 percent) more likely to enroll in college. The researchers explain that role model effect could be the reason for this positive impact. Black teachers provide a critical signal that influences the beliefs of Black children about the returns to effort and that education outcomes are possible.

Photo courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.