New Research Finds Just One Same-Race Teacher Can Impact Students’ Lives

Portrait of Cassandra Hart

Having an elementary teacher who looks like you can make a big impact. According to new research conducted by School of Education Associate Professor Cassandra Hart, we can now measure that impact more precisely.

In a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Hart and other researchers found that black students who had a black teacher in grades K-3 are 7 percent more likely to graduate from high school and 13 percent more likely to enroll in college than their same-school, same-cohort peers who did not have a black teacher. Having two black teachers increased black students’ likelihood to go to college by 32 percent.

The NBER working paper is one of the first in the field to document the long-term outcomes of the “role model effect” that occurs when students have at least one same-race teacher. By demonstrating positive outcomes and modeling the power of education, same-race teachers can help students achieve more during their time in the K-12 system and beyond high school. The paper also highlights the importance of increasing the number of teachers of color. While black students make up 15.4 percent of the K-12 population nationwide, black teachers only account for 6.7 percent of the teacher workforce. Read more about Hart’s research here.

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