Some White Teachers Have Lower Academic Expectations of Black Students

A new study from Johns Hopkins and American Universities has concluded that white teachers have a disturbing tendency to have lower expectations for black students. The study found that when white and black teachers were asked about a particular student, white teachers had comparatively negative predictions for their students of color.

The study is the first step in a larger research project exploring how teacher expectations impact student outcomes, said Nicholas Papageorge, the university economist and co-author of the study.

“If I’m a teacher and decide that a student isn’t any good, I may be communicating that to the student,” Papageorge said in a press release. “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 results are disheartening, to say the least. As reported in Huffington Post, when asked to rank the likelihood that their students would graduate, white teachers (and other non-black educators) were 12 percentage points more likely than black teachers to say their black students wouldn’t finish high school, let alone attend college.

“Racism is alive and well. I’m sure when people look at a black young man they have certain views, and they might not realize they have these views, and that’s really dangerous,” Papageorge concluded.


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