While a growing majority of children in public education are students of color, about 80 percent of teachers are white. It’s important that teachers have connections to their students, and that connection is very much improved when a student has access to teachers who “look like them.”
Previously, studies have found that “race matching”—assigning black or Latinx students to black or Latinx teachers—has boosted student achievement across a number of measures. But a recent study has found that children across racial lines prefer minority teachers, even white kids.
The study looked at data collected in the 2009-2010 school year from 200 urban schools, concerning 1,680 teachers and over 50,000 students, using the Measure of Effective Teaching study.
What they found was that black and Latinx teachers were given higher scores by students across racial and ethnic lines. Unlike standardized testing, the Measure of Effective Teaching study actually focuses on the students, asking them about their classroom experiences, if teachers are respectful, how well they explain difficult concepts, and other factors which actually matter in determining whether somebody is a good teacher or not.
Teachers of color were seen more favorably than their white peers, especially Latinx teachers, who outperformed their peers in each metric. Black teachers outperformed white teachers by holding their students to higher standards, supporting their efforts, explaining things and giving students feedback on their work.
Latinx students did not seem to have more favorable views of Latinx teachers, but black and Asian students both preferred black teachers to white teachers. In fact, Asian students seemed to have even more favorable views of black teachers than did black students.
All of this supports the need to make American teachers a more diverse group by hiring teachers of color to help provide a better education for all of our students, regardless of what race or ethnicity they may be.