- Matching students' race with those of their teachers can reduce rates of exclusionary discipline for Black and Latinx students in large, diverse and urban school districts, according to a new working paper from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University. The study examined 10 years' worth of data from New York City between 2007 and 2017.
- During years where students in grades 4-8 were assigned to a greater number of teachers of their same race, students were less likely to be suspended. This proved especially true for Black students, who experienced the largest impact, but the study also confirms a "significant" association for Latinx students and a "marginally significant" association for Asian American students.
- Researchers estimate increasing representation of teachers from those races can lead to an approximate 3% drop in suspension rates. Over 10 years, this would mean approximately 1,800 fewer suspensions for Black students, 1,500 fewer for Latinx students, and 230 fewer suspensions for Asian students, translating to an estimated 9,000 more days of instruction for Black students, 7,800 days for Latinx students, and 680 days for Asian students.
"This is important, as prior studies have found this relationship among Black students only, but our work suggests this race-match benefit is not unique to Black students," researchers Travis Bristol, Matthew Shirrell, and Tolani Britton wrote in an article on the findings published by the Brookings Institution.
In New York City, Black and Latino students are 3.6 and 1.7 times more likely, respectively, to be suspended than their White peers, according to 2016 data from the New York City Department of Education cited in the working paper.
While disparities in school discipline are more pronounced in large urban districts, this still holds true as a national trend. Previous research from The Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, shows Black and Latino students lose more days of public instruction when suspended, and Black students are also suspended and expelled at three times the rate of White students.
Suspensions and expulsions, as well as retention rates, are all associated with negative student outcomes.
Part of the challenge, researchers wrote, is the lack of access students of color have to a diverse teacher workforce. According to the working paper, while approximately 50% of students are of color, that percentage is only at 18% for teachers nationally. In large urban districts like New York City, approximately 85% of students are students of color, compared to 40% of teachers.
Because students of color have greater likelihoods of suspension when paired with White teachers, researchers recommend not only expanding recruitment efforts for a diverse teacher workforce, but also redesigning the induction of and professional learning offered to White teachers.
"As New York City and other school districts expand their policy efforts aimed at hiring teachers of color, they should also create opportunities to develop and sustain the capacity of White teachers to understand and explore how their implicit biases might contribute to the disproportionate rate at which they discipline Asian American, Black, and Latinx students," the researchers wrote.
A study released last year found while educators are not any less likely than non-educators to show implicit bias, interventions can help reduce prejudices.