Black Teachers Vital For Black Teens’ Education, Reveals Latest Study


Black students who have black teachers are more likely to enrol in college and graduate, according to a working paper published by National Bureau of Economic Research last week. The paper found that black students who had black teachers reaped benefits in both the short and long-terms, elevating their academic performances and improving their chances of graduating from the college.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins and American University in their findings indicated that black students with at least one black teacher had 13 percent more chance of enrolling in the college, while those with two black teachers had 32 percent chance.

The findings of the study were based on the data collected from class size reduction experiment based in Tennessee which started in the year 1986 and randomly assigned kindergarteners hailing from low-income groups to various sized classrooms. The researcher found black students who studied from a black teacher in kindergarten had 18 percent more chance than their peers to join up college.

Moreover, students with at least one black teacher in kindergarten through third grade had 10 percent more chance of being described as ‘persistent’, ‘children who work hard’ or ‘children who try to finish difficult tasks’ by their fourth-grade teachers.

“The role model effect seems to show that having one teacher of the same race is enough to give a student the ambition to achieve, for example, to take a college entrance exam,” said Nicholas Papageorge, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University and also one of the co-authors of the paper. “But if going to college is the goal, having two teachers of the same race helps even more.”

Finding of the research mirror those from a 2017 study by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics that was co-authored by Papageorge. This study focused on the long-term impact of same race teachers on students. The study revealed just one black teacher in elementary school considerably increased the likelihood of low-income black students to graduate from high school and attend colleges. It also decreased the risk of poor black boys dropping out of schools and colleges up to 40 percent.

Previous researches also highlight a causal short-term effect of black teachers on the grades as well as the academic performance of black teens. Students who had at least one black teacher scored higher in their end-of-year test scores than students who didn’t have one

According to Department of Education statistics, the teaching workforce is insignificantly homogenous in America where the teacher of colour constitute 18 percent of the total educator workforce, while black male educators constitute just 2 percent of the total workforce. The stats also revealed half of the students studying at public elementary and secondary schools belonged to different races or colours.

“For the foreseeable future, black kids are going to go to school and face white female teachers – that’s the reality so the question is what are we going to do about that?” Pappageorge added. “While we make efforts to find and train new black teachers, we also need to educate white teachers about implicit bias, teach them to be culturally competent, and show them how not to exacerbate these existing achievement gaps.”

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