Do students perceive their teachers and schools more positively when more of their teachers look like them?

The Education Research Alliance for New Orleans has released a new study, based on a survey of almost 4,000 students, that finds Black students in New Orleans report more positive educational experiences, including less bullying and fairer discipline, in schools with a higher percentage of Black teachers.

Ninety percent of children in New Orleans public schools are people of color, but only 61% of teachers are people of color. Researchers at ERA-New Orleans used survey results and demographic data from 19 schools to answer the question: Do New Orleans students rate their teachers, their school climates, and their own academic engagement more positively in schools with more teachers who are the same race, ethnicity, or gender as them?

Here’s what they found:

  • In schools that had a higher percentage of Black teachers, Black students rated their school climate and academic engagement higher. For example, they reported lower levels of bullying, fairer discipline, and more participation in school clubs and activities.
  • However, having a higher percentage of Black teachers in a school was not associated with Black students rating their teachers more highly.  
  • In contrast to the above findings for Black students, researchers did not find that survey responses for White, Hispanic, male, or female students changed when they had more teachers that shared their demographics.

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