Post Cassandra M.D. Hart

Black Boys Are Less Likely to Be Identified for Special Education When Matched with Black Teachers

New research by Cassandra Hart

Black male elementary school students matched to Black teachers are less likely to be identified for special education services, according to new research conducted by Prof. Cassandra Hart. The relationship is strongest for economically disadvantaged students, and the connection is especially strong in special education categories that are more open to teacher discretion, such as learning disabilities.

“Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that having access to Black teachers matters to Black children’s educational journeys,” said Hart. “We show that access to Black teachers most strongly affects precisely the types of special disability placements that are more subject to teacher discretion, and therefore where the need for services is more questionable.”

For their study, Hart and colleague Constance Lindsay at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill drew on rich statewide administrative data from North Carolina that included more than 540,000 observations of Black children in grades 1 to 4 and their assigned teachers from 2007–08 through 2012–13. The study appeared in American Educational Research Journal. Read about “Teacher-Student Race Match and Identification for Discretionary Educational Services.” 

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