According to a new report, A Community College Instructor Like Me: Race and Ethnicity Interactions in the Classroom, 2.9 percent of students who identify as U.S. minorities—African-American, Native American, Hispanic and Pacific Islander—are more likely to excel if their teachers share their ethnic or racial background.
The report states:
“We find that the performance gap in terms of class dropout and pass rates between white and minority students falls by roughly half when taught by a minority instructor. In models that allow for a full set of ethnic and racial interactions between students and instructors, we find African-American students perform particularly better when taught by African-American instructors. … The class dropout rate relative to Whites is 6 percentage points lower for Black students when taught by a Black instructor. Conditional on completing the course, the relative fraction attaining a B-average or greater is 13 percentage points higher.”
What becomes clear is that the education gap between white students and students who identify as U.S. minorities, is a direct reflection of the gap between white teachers and teachers of color. According to the study’s authors, more research will have to be done to understand the depth of this correlation:
“Our results suggest that the academic achievement gap between white and underrepresented minority college students would decrease by hiring more minority instructors. Hiring more instructors of one type may also lead to greater student sorting and changes to classroom composition, which may also impact academic achievement. A more detailed understanding of heterogeneous effects from instructor assignment, therefore, is needed before drawing recommendations for improving overall outcomes. The topic is ripe for further research.”