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New study looks at teacher's expectations for students by race
The study compares predictions of white teachers to black teachers

Mark Urycki
Seth Gershenson worked on the study. His study found black teachers were more optimistic about black students than white teachers were.
Courtesy of American University
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Race does matter, according to a new study measuring high school teachers’ expectations for black students. For Ohio Public Radio, StateImpact Ohio’s Mark Urycki reports.

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A new study involving 16 thousand high school teachers around the country finds black teachers are more optimistic about black students than white teachers are.  Researchers at American University and Johns Hopkins would pick a 10th grader and then ask two of his teachers (one white and one black) about how far they thought the student would go in school.  If the kid was white, the black and white teachers made similar predictions.  But if he was black, white teachers were less optimistic.  Professor Seth Gershenson of American University worked on the study.

“A black teacher is about 30% more likely to expect a black student to graduate from college than a white teacher is - again, when they’re both evaluating the same student,” Gershenson says. 

He says past studies have shown that could mean a self-fulfilling prophecy: “If teachers have expectations that are too low they might reassign their energy and efforts to other students who they think either have more potential or are on the margin of just needing a little more assistance,” he says. 

Gershenson says other studies have found students tend to do better with same race teachers. In Ohio just five percent of public school teachers are black.

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