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Study Says Students' Race Changes Teacher Expectations

Arise Academy in Dayton is now closed, and former leaders of the school have been convicted of federal crimes.
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Race does matter, according to a new study measuring high school teachers’ expectations for black students.

A new study involving 16,000 high school teachers around the country finds black teachers are more optimistic about black students than white teachers are. Researchers at American University and Johns Hopkins would pick a 10th grader and then ask two of his teachers, one white and one black, about how far they thought the student would go in school.

If the kid was white, the black and white teachers made similar predictions. But if he was black, white teachers were less optimistic.

“A black teacher is about 30 percent more likely to expect a black student to graduate from college than a white teacher is - again, when they’re both evaluating the same student,” American University professor Seth Gershenson said.  

He also says past studies have shown that could mean a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

“If teachers have expectations that are too low they might reassign their energy and efforts to other students who they think either have more potential or are on the margin of just needing a little more assistance,” he said.
Gershenson says other studies have found students tend to do better with same race teachers. In Ohio, just 5 percent of public school teachers are black.