Black students face a number of disadvantages in the classroom–including, it turns out, racial bias on behalf of their own teachers.
Recent research out of Johns Hopkins indicates that the race of both teachers and students play a role in what is expected of students, with white teachers expecting less of their black students than black teachers.
Researchers asked black and white teachers to evaluate the same students, predicting whether or not the student would go on to complete high school and/or a four-year college degree. They found that teachers of different races had very different ideas about their students’ futures–even if the teachers were making predictions about the exact same student. White teachers were 30 percent less likely to predict their black students would finish college, and 40 percent less likely to think they’d graduate from high school. The discrepancies were particularly significant when it came to black boys, researchers found.
These discrepancies raise concerns about self-fulfilling prophecies. “If I’m a teacher and decide that a student isn’t any good, I may be communicating that to the student,” said study co-author Nicholas Papageorge, an economist at Johns Hopkins . “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.”