search cancel cancel-medium

Do Students Perceive Their Teachers and Schools More Positively When More of Their Teachers Look Like Them?

A Research Snapshot by Alica Gerry and Lindsay Bell Weixler finds that Black students rated their academic engagement higher in schools with a higher percentage of Black teachers.

Policy Brief Cover

Do Students Perceive Their Teachers and Schools More Positively When More of Their Teachers Look Like Them?

by Alica Gerry, Lindsay Bell Weixler

Nine­ty per­cent of chil­dren in New Orleans pub­lic schools are peo­ple of col­or, but only 61% of teach­ers are peo­ple of col­or. A pre­vi­ous ERA-New Orleans study, based on a sur­vey of almost 4,000 stu­dents, found major dis­par­i­ties between how Black and White stu­dents in New Orleans rate their school cli­mates and teach­ers. Con­tin­u­ing on that research, Ali­ca Ger­ry and Lind­say Bell Weixler 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? Their key find­ings were: 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. These results, tak­en with exist­ing research on the top­ic, sug­gest that New Orleans’ Black stu­dents ben­e­fit from hav­ing teach­ers who look like them. Local pol­i­cy­mak­ers and prac­ti­tion­ers should con­sid­er these poten­tial ben­e­fits when devel­op­ing poli­cies and strate­gies for teacher recruit­ment and reten­tion in New Orleans. The report is the first study from ERA-New Orleans’ new Research Snap­shot series, which fea­tures con­cise reports that answer ques­tions asked by either our Advi­so­ry Board or NOLA Pub­lic Schools. By launch­ing this series in part­ner­ship with the school dis­trict and local edu­ca­tion lead­ers, ERA-New Orleans has the oppor­tu­ni­ty to answer impact­ful ques­tions and quick­ly get answers that pol­i­cy­mak­ers can use to direct­ly help schools and stu­dents on the ground.

Related Publications