- The Tennessee Education Research Alliance at Vanderbilt University found Black and male teachers consistently got lower observation scores than White and female teachers, even when similarly qualified and receiving similar performance scores under other metrics. The data was collected from observation scores taken in the 2011-12 through 2018-2019 school years.
- Observation scores play a large part in teachers’ overall evaluation ratings in Tennessee and can impact compensation, retention and other personnel decisions, said Jason Grissom, the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Public Policy and Education at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College and faculty director at TERA, in a statement on the findings. Grissom said observation scores should ideally provide accurate information about classroom effectiveness and not reflect "other factors beyond the teachers’ control."
- The research found racial gaps in observation scores to be larger in schools where Black teachers were racially isolated. Black teachers are also more likely to be assigned students with discipline issues than are their White peers, which may partially explain the observation score differences, according to the research.
The research from Vanderbilt further highlights the challenges Black educators face despite evidence of the value they bring to schools. Ten years of data from New York City Public Schools, for instance, suggested Black students are less likely to be suspended when they are taught by Black teachers. Having just one Black teacher in elementary school boosts a Black students’ likelihood of enrolling in college by 13%, and having two Black teachers during that time increases college enrollment likeliness to 32%.
Going up the chain of command a step further, Black principals increase the rate of Black teachers being hired and decrease Black teacher turnover because they create school environments that are more attractive and welcoming to Black educators, Grissom previously told K-12 Dive. In addition, research dating back to the 1980s indicates Black superintendents significantly boost achievement for students of color.
Compton Unified School District in California, where the student population is 81.9% Hispanic and 16.9% Black, worked to recruit, support and retain male teachers of color through a program that brought them together once every other month to discuss professional challenges, offer each other support, and work on teaching strategies. Discussions included how being a person of color affects their role as a teacher.
Baron Davis, superintendent in South Carolina’s Richland School District Two, has overseen initiatives designed to diversify the district's workforce and academics. The district’s Premier 100 initiative is designed to identify, develop and retain men of color, specifically Black men. To do that, the district networks with local HBCUs and the Call Me MISTER program to recruit. Hires are also connected to other men of color for mentorship, support and guidance.