Tag Archives: Racial Disparity

Johns Hopkins University study: White teachers more likely to doubt educational prospects of black boys and girls

3 Apr

Moi wrote in The teaching profession needs more males and teachers of color:

Moi believes that good and gifted teachers come in all colors, shapes, sizes, and both genders. Teachers are often role models and mentors which is why a diverse teaching profession is desirable. Huffington Post has the interesting article, Few Minority Teachers In Classrooms, Gap Attributed To Bias And Low Graduation Rates which discusses why there are fewer teachers of color in the profession.

Minority students will likely outnumber white students in the next decade or two, but the failure of the national teacher demographic to keep up with that trend is hurting minority students who tend to benefit from teachers with similar backgrounds.

Minority students make up more than 40 percent of the national public school population, while only 17 percent of the country’s teachers are minorities, according to a report released this week by the Center for American Progress….

In a second report, the CAP notes that in more than 40 percent of the nation’s public schools, there are no minority teachers at all. The dearth of diversity in the teaching force could show that fewer minorities are interested in teaching or that there are fewer minorities qualified to teach. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/11/few-minority-teachers-in-_n_1089020.html?ref=email_share

The lack of diversity in the teaching profession has been a subject of comment for years.

In 2004, the Council for Exceptional Children wrote in the article,New Report Says More Diverse Teachers Reduces the Achievement Gap for Students of Color:

Representation of Diverse Teachers in the Workforce

The number of diverse teachers does not represent the number of diverse students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 2003):

  • In 2001-2002, 60 percent of public school students were White, 17 percent Black, 17 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1 percent American Indian/Alaska Native.
  • According to 2001 data, 90 percent of public school teachers were White, 6 percent Black, and fewer than 5 percent of other races.
  • Approximately 40 percent of schools had no teachers of color on staff….

The Impact of Diverse Teachers on Student Achievement
Increasing the percentage of diverse teachers not only impacts the social development of diverse students, it also is directly connected to closing the achievement gap of these students. Research shows that a number of significant school achievement markers are positively affected when diverse students are taught by diverse teachers, including attendance, disciplinary referrals, dropout rates, overall satisfaction with school, self-concept, cultural competence, and the students’ sense of the relevance of school. In addition, studies show that

o    Diverse students tend to have higher academic, personal, and social performance when taught by teachers from their own ethnic group.

o    Diverse teachers have demonstrated that when diverse students are taught with culturally responsive techniques and with content-specific approaches usually reserved for students with gifts and talents, their academic performance improves significantly.

o    Diverse teachers have higher performance expectations for students from their own ethnic group.

Other advantages of increasing the number of diverse teachers are: more diverse teachers would increase the number of role models for diverse students; provide opportunities for all students to learn about ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity; enrich diverse students learning; and serve as cultural brokers for students, other educators, and parents. http://www.cec.sped.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&CONTENTID=6240&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&CAT=none

A diverse teaching corps is needed not only to mirror the society, but because the continuing family meltdown has broadened the duties of schools.https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/the-teaching-profession-needs-more-males-and-teachers-of-color/

Elisha Mc Neill reported in the Education Week article, Study Finds More Evidence of Racial Bias in Teachers’ Expectations for Students:

White teachers are less likely to expect academic success from black students, especially black boys, according to a new Johns Hopkins University study.

Published in the journal Economics of Education Review, the “Who Believes in Me?” study was compiled to investigate how teachers form expectations for students, whether those expectations are systematically biased, and whether they are affected by racial differences.

The findings are based largely on data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, an ongoing study following 8,400 10th grade public school students. For the survey, two different math or reading teachers, who each taught the same student, were asked to guess how far that one student would go in school.

The findings show that with white students, evaluations from both teachers were about the same. But for black students, white teachers had lower expectations than black teachers.

“What I would like to do is make teachers aware of biases,” said co-author Nicholas Papageorge, an assistant economics professor at JHU’s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, according to the Huffington Post. “Racism is alive and well. I’m sure when people look at a black young man they have certain views, and they might not realize they have these views, and that’s really dangerous.”

Researchers found that, compared to black teachers, white teachers were about 30 percent less likely to predict the same student will attain a four-year college degree and 40 percent less likely to expect their black students will even graduate high school. By contrast, black female teachers were 20 percent less likely than white teachers to predict their student wouldn’t graduate high school, and 30 percent less likely to to make that prediction than black male teachers….

The study also found that white and other non-black teachers were 5 percent more likely to predict that their black male students would not graduate high school compared to their black female students, whom white male teachers were 10 to 20 percent more likely to have low expectations for.

The research adds to a growing number of studies indicating that race can shape how teachers see and treat their students. For example, a 2010 Georgia Southern University study found that 342 students reported they had experienced a type of microagression, such as a teacher assuming a black student was poor without asking, at least once during high school. A 2015 American University study found the likelihood of boys of color being suspended or missing class in elementary school rises significantly if assigned to a teacher of another race. According to a Stanford University study in 2015, students of color are disciplined and taken out of class at higher rates than their white peers…..                                                                                                     http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2016/03/bias.html

Here is the press release from Johns Hopkins:

Race Biases Teachers’ Expectations for Students

White teachers more likely to doubt educational prospects of black boys and girls

March 30, 2016
CONTACT: Jill Rosen
Office: 443-997-9906
Cell: 443-547-8805

Johns Hopkins University

When evaluating the same black student, white teachers expect significantly less academic success than black teachers, a new Johns Hopkins University study concludes. This is especially true for black boys.

When a black teacher and a white teacher evaluate the same black student, the white teacher is about 30 percent less likely to predict the student will complete a four-year college degree, the study found. White teachers are also almost 40 percent less likely to expect their black students will graduate high school.

“What we find is that white teachers and black teachers systematically disagree about the exact same student,” said co-author Nicholas Papageorge, an economist in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. “One of them has to be wrong.”

The study, forthcoming in the journal Economics of Education Review, and now available online, suggests that the more modest expectations of some teachers could become self-fulfilling prophecies. These low expectations could affect the performance of students, particularly disadvantaged ones who lack access to role models who could counteract a teacher’s low expectations, Papageorge said.

“If I’m a teacher and decide that a student isn’t any good, I may be communicating that to the student,” Papageorge said. “A teacher telling a student they’re not smart will weigh heavily on how that student feels about their future and perhaps the effort they put into doing well in school.”

The findings also likely apply beyond the education system, the researchers say — leading to racial biases in the workplace, the service industry and the criminal justice system.

The researchers analyzed data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, an ongoing study following 8,400 10th grade public school students. That survey asked two different teachers, who each taught a particular student in either math or reading, to predict how far that one student would go in school. With white students, the ratings from both teachers tended to be the same. But with black students, boys in particular, there were big differences — the white teachers had much lower expectations than black teachers for how far the black students would go in school.

The study found:

  • White and other non-black teachers were 12 percentage points more likely than black teachers to predict black students wouldn’t finish high school.
  • Non-black teachers were 5 percent more likely to predict their black boy students wouldn’t graduate high school than their black girls.
  • Black female teachers are significantly more optimistic about the ability of black boys to complete high school than teachers of any other demographic group. They were 20 percent less likely than white teachers to predict their student wouldn’t graduate high school, and 30 percent less likely to say that then black male teachers.
  • White male teachers are 10 to 20 percent more likely to have low expectations for black female students.
  • Math teachers were significantly more likely to have low expectations for female students.
  • For black students, particularly black boys, having a non-black teacher in a 10th grade subject made them much less likely to pursue that subject by enrolling in similar classes. This suggests biased expectations by teachers have long-term effects on student outcomes, the researchers said.

Papageorge’s co-authors are Seth Gershenson, an assistant professor of public policy at American University, and Stephen B. Holt, a doctoral student at American University.

“While the evidence of systematic racial bias in teachers’ expectations uncovered in the current study are certainly troubling and provocative, they also raise a host of related, policy-relevant questions that our research team plans to address in the near future,” Gershenson said. “For example, we are currently studying the impact of these biased expectations on students’ long-run outcomes such as educational attainment, labor market success, and interaction with the criminal justice system.

The study was supported by the American Educational Research Association.


Johns Hopkins University news releases are available online, as is information for reporters. To arrange a video or audio interview with a Johns Hopkins expert, contact a media representative listed above or visit our studio web page. Find more Johns Hopkins stories on the Hub.


March 30, 2016 Tags: economics, Education, Nicholas W. Papageorge, race, teacher expectations, teachers
Posted in Education/K-12, Social Sciences

Office of Communications
Johns Hopkins University
3910 Keswick Road, Suite N2600
Baltimore, Maryland 21211
Phone: 443-997-9009 | Fax: 443 997-1006                                             

Brian Resnick wrote an intriguing article for National Journal, When Teachers Overcompensate for Racial Prejudice:

The performance gap between white and minority students is one of the most persisting problems in American education. Since the 1990s, the performance gap, as reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, has more or less stagnated. While a multitude of factors contribute to the disparity — most glaringly the quality of instruction in poorly funded schools — there are some underlying psychological factors as well.

One widely documented phenomenon is called stereotype threat: When confronted with a racial bias (for example, a suggestion that black students do not perform well on a task), stereotyped students actually don’t do as well compared to control groups. This, in part, explains why black students may not perform as well on high-stakes tests such as the SATs. Some studies have even shown that the threat can diminish short-term memory.

Another psychological roadblock, as outlined in a recent study in the Journal of Educational Psychology, is a tendency for white teachers to judge minority students’ work less critically than white students’.

It’s called positive feedback bias, but its effects are largely negative. “There’s nothing wrong with getting positive feedback,” says Kent Harber, lead researcher of the study. But “what happens is that when the feedback is inaccurate, it doesn’t provide a valid fix as to where a student is actually performing. Then they don’t know where they need to best direct their efforts. It’s like having a biased compass.”

Furthermore, the minority students are implicitly aware that this is happening, which increases their distrust of their white teachers and fuels disinterest in schoolwork.

“When black students get positive feedback from a white, and they believe that the white is aware of their race, not only does their self esteem not get bolstered by the positive feedback — it is actually depressed,” Harber says.

In the study, 126 teachers from the New York metropolitan area were asked to edit essays supposedly written by a black, Latino, or white student. They weren’t told the the student’s racial demographics, but the researchers provided students’ names that hinted at it (Taisha or Jarell for black students, Mark or Molly for white students). The teachers were told their comments would be delivered back to the students. In actuality, there were no students and the essays were assembled to mimic a C-grade level ability.

The researchers found that the teachers were indeed not grading the black and Latino students as critically as the white ones. This trend has been documented before, but the deeper question Harber and his colleagues were trying to answer was the source of the teacher’s motivation. What compelled them to be less critical of minority students?

Political correctness is often seen as an effort to keep up appearances, but Harber’s group found that something different was going on here. The teachers were trying to preserve a self image of being unbiased. The research group came to this conclusion this because the teachers didn’t show bias toward the objective aspects of the essay — the grammar or the spelling — but rather the subjective aspects like ideas and logic. And as the paper states, “criticizing subjective features of writing raises the risk of appearing unfair because there are few established standards to justifying such criticism.”

“There might be multiple causes [for positive feedback bias], but the one that seems particularly potent is a self-image concern, that the whites don’t want to see themselves as prejudiced, independent of how other people see them,” Harber says. “What happens, I believe, is their focus gets distracted from what are the needs of the students to what are ways that I can restore my self image.”

So how can this problem be solved? Harber and his colleagues found that teachers who have greater social support at school are less likely to show a positive feedback bias toward black students. The theory is that teachers with support feel less anxious about their performance and can concentrate on being fair graders.



Database: PsycARTICLES

[ First Posting ]

Students’ Race and Teachers’ Social Support Affect the Positive Feedback Bias in Public Schools.

Harber, Kent D.; Gorman, Jamie L.; Gengaro, Frank P.; Butisingh, Samantha; Tsang, William; Ouellette, Rebecca

Journal of Educational Psychology, Apr 30 , 2012, No Pagination Specified. doi: 10.1037/a0028110


  1. This research tested whether public school teachers display the positive feedback bias, wherein Whites give more praise and less criticism to minorities than to fellow Whites for equivalent work. It also tested whether teachers lacking in school-based social support (i.e., support from fellow teachers and school administrators) are more likely to display the positive bias and whether the positive feedback bias applies to Latinos as well as to Blacks. White middle school and high school teachers from 2 demographically distinct public school districts gave feedback on a poorly written essay supposedly authored by a Black, Latino, or White student. Teachers in the Black student condition showed the positive bias, but only if they lacked school-based social support. Teachers in the Latino student condition showed the positive bias regardless of school-based support. These results indicate that the positive feedback bias may contribute to the insufficient challenge that undermines minority students’ academic achievement. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

There are many causes for the disparity in education outcome for many children of color. Along with family situation, low-income status, low-performing schools, and cultural norms, more attention must be paid to the expectation of teachers regarding children who they judge as not likely to succeed.


Is there a ‘model minority’ ??                                                                            https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/is-there-a-model-minority/

UN-traditional Father’s Day message: Don’t become a father unless you can make the commitment to YOUR child


Study: The plight of African-American boys in Oakland, California                                                                                                           https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/study-the-plight-of-african-american-boys-in-oakland-california/

Who says Black children can’t learn? Some schools get it                         https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/who-says-black-children-cant-learn-some-schools-gets-it/

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Rumble in academia about study of ‘undermatching’ of ethnic groups and elite colleges

11 Feb

Mary Beth Markein wrote in the 2009 USA Today article, Q&A: Minority, low-income students need to aim higher:

GRADUATION RATES: If graduation is assumed, students don’t want to fall behind
HIGHER ED: More on grad rates at public universities
Q: You use the term “undermatch” to describe a student who appears to be eligible for a more selective college than the one where they enrolled. Why is undermatching a problem?
Bowen: It is sort of counterintuitive. You would think a student with reasonable qualifications would be more likely to graduate by going to a school where they’re not up against super-prepared kids, where there’s less competition. One argument against affirmative action has been that African-American students get discouraged at places that are too tough for them and drop out. But we found no evidence to support that. Going to a place where you’re challenged increases outcomes. Now, there may be good reasons for undermatching, but this should not be the norm. Yet data in North Carolina suggest that 40% of students undermatch by going to a less selective four-year university, to a two-year college, or to no college.
Q: You argue for better advising for high school students. What about cost? Selective schools tend to have higher sticker prices.
McPherson: If you look at the net price, after allowing for loans and grants, it turns out that in many cases the flagships, for example, may be cheaper for low-income students than less selective institutions in the state. But financing has to be in place and unambiguous. Some relatively vague promise that families will be able to afford a particular school is probably not a message that most lower- and moderate-income families are going to believe. One answer is to make the financial aid system simpler and more reliable. Another is making sure you get the money to the right people. If this country wants to have more college graduates, we have to do better for low- and moderate-income students….. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-09-09-completing-college_N.htm

Not much has changed since 2009.

Scott Jaschik reported in the Inside Higher Ed article, Is ‘Undermatching’ Overrated?

Few educational theories have taken off as quickly in recent years as that of “undermatching.” The idea is that many academically talented, low-income students who could succeed at top colleges are not applying to, enrolling in or graduating from them. Research on the topic has attracted widespread attention not only from colleges but from the White House, where administration officials have urged higher education leaders to do more on the issue.
But an analysis published Friday in Educational Researcher (abstract available here) argues that some key assumptions behind much undermatching research are flawed — and that new studies are needed to determine how much of the theory holds. The authors are Michael N. Bastedo, director of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan, and Allyson Flaster, a doctoral student at Michigan.
A key part of undermatching theory is that the disadvantaged students who enroll at less competitive colleges are missing the chance at institutions with greater resources, higher graduation rates and more prestige. But Bastedo and Flaster question whether the researchers have in fact identified the “margins that matter” to student success.
They argue that the much increased opportunity that comes from attending a “top” institution is truly evident only at the very top, the wealthiest institutions that don’t require students to borrow. But much of the undermatching research isn’t looking at the top 50 colleges, but the top 200 or so, a group so wide that it doesn’t focus on the institutions that really have exceptional resources compared to all others.
Further, the new article says that undermatching studies largely ignore a match that truly matters: whether a student enrolls at a community college or four-year institution. This choice, the authors write, is a crucial one (and perhaps far more important than whether a student attends a more or less competitive four-year institution) if the goal is to have more disadvantaged students earn bachelor’s degrees because of the relatively low rates at which community college students go on to do so.
More on ‘Undermatching’
• Study finds that a majority of low-income, high academic ability students fail to apply to a single competitive college. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/12/11/study-says-many-highly-talented-low-income-students-never-apply-top-colleges
• Study finds that certain interventions have an impact on whether low-income, high ability students will apply to competitive colleges. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/04/01/research-suggests-top-colleges-could-attract-many-more-high-achieving-low-income
• Obama administration talks to colleges about undermatching. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/12/06/obama-administration-asks-colleges-set-goals-lower-income-student-success

There is of course, a contra view regarding what this study means.

Jaschik got an e-mail reply from Professor Caroline Hoxby:

Caroline M. Hoxby, a professor of economics at Stanford University, and the co-author of several of the leading studies on undermatching, was highly critical of the Bastedo-Flaster analysis. Via email, Hoxby said: “Our studies are definitive. We not only study 100 percent (I said 100 percent and I am not kidding) of low-income high achievers, but we also have causal impacts (we have studies that rely on randomized controlled trials in which students are induced by our interventions to apply to more selective colleges).”
She suggested that Inside Higher Ed “simply ignore this low quality study,” which she characterized as “a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10,” noting that “one of the great faults of the media is to give similar weight to studies” without being able to evaluate their quality. (Hoxby is a highly respected researcher on higher education, as are some of the others who work on undermatching, but so is Bastedo, and it may be relevant that this new analysis is being published in the flagship journal of the American Educational Research Association.)
Christopher Avery, a professor of public policy at Harvard University who has written pieces with Hoxby about undermatching, said via email that the “ultimate test” of the theory would be whether interventions have an impact. If the Educational Researcher analysis is accurate, he said, then interventions wouldn’t have much of an impact. But, he noted, a study by Hoxby and another co-author found that interventions do appear to work, and that evidence is “pretty compelling,” he said. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/02/10/analysis-questions-assumptions-behind-undermatching-theory#ixzz2t35Hki7x


Conceptual and Methodological Problems in Research on College Undermatch
1. Michael N. Bastedo1
2. Allyson Flaster1
1. 1University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Access to the nation’s most selective colleges remains starkly unequal, with students in the lowest income quartile constituting less than 4% of enrollment. A popular explanation for this phenomenon is that low-income students undermatch by attending less selective colleges when their credentials predict admission to more highly selective colleges. We identify three problematic assumptions in research on undermatching: (a) that researchers can differentiate colleges at the “margin that matters” for student outcomes; (b) that researchers can accurately predict who will be admitted at colleges that use holistic admission processes; and (c) that using achievement measures like SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) scores to match students to colleges will reduce postsecondary inequality. We discuss the implications of these assumptions for future research on college choice and stratification.
• admissions
• higher education
• research methodology
• social class
• social stratification
Article Notes
• Received April 25, 2013.
• Revision received October 9, 2013.
• Revision received January 7, 2014.
• Accepted January 14, 2014.
• © 2014 AERA
1. Published online before print February 7, 2014, doi: 10.3102/0013189X14523039 EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER February 7, 2014 0013189X14523039
1. » Abstract
2. Full Text
3. Full Text (PDF)


Can We Fix Undermatching in Higher Ed? Would it Matter if We Did? http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/brown-center-chalkboard/posts/2014/01/15-undermatching-higher-ed-chingos

Smart, Poor Kids Are Applying to the Wrong Colleges http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2013/03/undermatching_half_of_the_smartest_kids_from_low_income_households_don_t.html

The best way to eliminate poverty is job creation, job growth, and job retention. The Asian Development Bank has the best concise synopsis of the link between Education and Poverty http://www.adb.org/documents/assessing-development-impact-breaking-cycle-poverty-through-education For a good article about education and poverty which has a good bibliography, go to Poverty and Education, Overview http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2330/Poverty-Education.html There will not be a good quality of life for most citizens without a strong education system. One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. Without continued sustained investment in education, we are the next third world country.

Choosing the right college for you

Producing employable liberal arts grads

Remedial education in college

Why go to college?

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Baylor University study: Unresponsive state policymakers make the racial achievement gap worse

9 Jul

Moi wrote in the article, Education funding lawsuits against states on the rise:
Moi has often said in posts at the blog that the next great civil rights struggle will involve access for ALL children to a good basic education. Sabra Bireda has written a report from the Center for American Progress, Funding Education Equitably

The old axiom that the rich get richer certainly plays out in the American classroom—often to the detriment of achieving academic success. Data on intradistrict funding inequities in many large school districts confirm what most would guess—high-poverty schools actually receive less money per pupil than more affluent schools.1 These funding inequities have real repercussions for the quality of education offered at high-poverty schools and a district’s ability to overcome the achievement gap between groups of students defined by family income or ethnicity.
The source of these funding inequities is not a deliberate scheme designed to steer more state and local funds to affluent schools. Rather it is often the result of an accumulation of higher-paid, more senior teachers working in low-poverty schools. High-poverty schools typically employ less-experienced, lower-paid teachers, thereby drawing down less of the district’s funds. The imbalance in funding created by this situation can total hundreds of thousands of dollars school by school.2 Archaic budgeting practices that track positions instead of actual school expenditures only serve to reinforce this inequity.
Aside from concerns about the inequitable distribution of veteran and novice teachers across schools, students attending high-poverty schools actually need more funding to achieve at the level of their wealthier counterparts.3 The federal government recognizes this fact with its allocation of federal funds under Title
I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA. One condition of receiving Title I funds is that districts allocate state and local funds equitably to non-Title I and Title I schools before spending federal monies. The “comparability” provision was implemented to ensure that schools spend Title I funds on services meant to enhance educational opportunities for students at high-poverty schools and not to make up for unfair shares of state and local resources stemming from conventional management and budgeting practices.
The comparability provision should be a strong tool to correct the funding disparities created by an inequitable distribution of higher- and lower-paid teachers. But for years, districts have been able to evade true comparability between schools due to a loophole in the law. The loophole allows districts to demonstrate compliance without comparing the amount of actual dollars spent at each school. Instead, districts can show comparability by placing equal numbers of teachers, on a per pupil basis, at high- and low-poverty schools.
If a district does compare per-pupil expenditures, for example, the district can use a district-average teacher salary in calculations in place of actual salaries in school budgets. This common budgeting practice masks significant funding inequities. Under the current provision, districts can continue to receive Title I money even as their most high-poverty schools are deprived of fair shares of local and state funds.

The issues brought out by Bireda’s report are just one of a host of reasons why there must be equitable education funding. https://drwilda.com/2012/01/25/education-funding-lawsuits-against-states-on-the-rise/
Julia Lawrence writes in the Education News article, Study: Race Plays Role in Political Response to Falling Grad Rates:

Analysis by Dr. Patrick Flavin of Baylor University and Michael Hartney of the University of Notre Dame concludes that state education authorities and policymakers tend to be more responsive to falling graduation rates among white students and less so to falling African-American graduation rates. As Ronald Roach of Diverse Issues in Higher Education reports, the authors find that a fall in the percentage of white students who earn a high school diploma draws increased attention to instructional quality compared to when African-American graduation rates decline.
After examining the reasons for the disparity, Flavin, who is an assistant professor of political science, and Hartney who is a political science Ph.D. candidate, conclude that the persistent achievement gap between white and African-American students stems from political rather than economic reasons.

Here is the press release from Baylor University about The Political Foundations of the Black–White Education Achievement Gap:

Black-white Education Achievement Gap Is Worsened by Unresponsive State Policymakers, Baylor Study Shows

June 19, 2013
Follow us on Twitter:@BaylorUMediaCom
Contact: Terry Goodrich,(254) 710-3321
WACO, Texas (June 20, 2013) — State policymakers’ attention to teacher quality — an issue education research shows is essential to improving schooling outcomes for racial minority students — is highly responsive to low graduation rates among white students, but not to low graduation rates among black students, according to a Baylor University study.
The findings are evidence that “the persisting achievement gap between white and black students has distinctively political foundations,” the researchers wrote.
The article, entitled “The Politic Foundations of the Black-White Education Achievement Gap,” is published in the journal American Politics Research. It is co-authored by Patrick Flavin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, and Michael Hartney, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Notre Dame.
The findings come nearly 60 years after Brown vs. the Board of Education, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case aimed at promoting educational equality by declaring unconstitutional state laws that established separate public schools for black and white students.
But the researchers’ findings show that inequality persists when it comes to education reform. “Instead of promoting equality of opportunity, America’s system of K-12 education — which relies heavily on state and local control — may worsen political inequalities,” the researchers wrote.
Surprisingly, even in states in which policymakers were more racially balanced, legislators were less responsive about closing the education gap, Flavin said.
“You might expect that in states that have more black students, government would be more attentive, but we didn’t find that,” Flavin said. “Whether analyzed at the policymaking level or the level of individual citizens’ political attitudes, white students receive far more attention and subsequent response compared to African-American students.”
He suggested a reason why black policymakers might be less responsive about working toward teacher quality than might be expected.
For the research, racial disparities in student outcomes were measured using National Assessment of Education Progress scores as well as high school graduation rates. While there was a period of dramatic improvement after the Brown v. Board decision up until early 1990s, the gap between the two racial groups has stagnated or even slightly increased since the early 1990s, according to the study.
To analyze state policymaking, the researchers measured 12 state-level reform policies tracked by the National Council on Teacher Quality. Those policies include such actions as paying teachers more for teaching in high-poverty schools (so-called “combat pay”) and tying teacher pay to student achievement.
To analyze citizens’ opinions on education, Flavin and Hartney used a variety of nationally representative public opinion polls and found that white citizens “only seem to be alarmed when white students’ performance drops,” Flavin said.
Whites are less likely to think an education gap exists or to see it as a priority compared to blacks. Whites also are less likely to think that the government has a responsibility to close a gap, the researchers found.
“It’s when white students are doing poorly that you start seeing state legislators pass more controversial bills like linking teacher pay and evaluations to student test scores,” Flavin said.
The study concludes by noting that the most recent and widespread efforts to address educational inequality have come not from state policymakers but rather from federal ones.
Those included the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, which required states to document and report student test score data by racial and ethnic subgroups; and more recently, the “Race to the Top,” a competitive grant program that makes willingness to decrease achievement gaps, particularly to increase minority students’ access to highly effective teachers, a key factor for states to be awarded federal money.
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.
The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 26 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines.


The Political Foundations of the Black–White Education Achievement Gap
1.Michael T. Hartney, PhD Candidate mhartney@nd.edu
2.Patrick Flavin
More than 50 years after Brown v. Board, African American students continue to trail their White peers on a variety of important educational indicators. In this article, we investigate the political foundations of the racial “achievement gap” in American education. Using variation in high school graduation rates across the states, we first assess whether state policymakers are attentive to the educational needs of struggling African American students. We find evidence that state policymaking attention to teacher quality—an issue education research shows is essential to improving schooling outcomes for racial minority students—is highly responsive to low graduation rates among White students, but bears no relationship to low graduation rates among African American students. We then probe a possible mechanism behind this unequal responsiveness by examining the factors that motivate White public opinion about education reform and find racial influences there as well. Taken together, we uncover evidence that the persisting achievement gap between White and African American students has distinctively political foundations.
Published online before print May 6, 2013, doi: 10.1177/1532673X13482967 American Politics Research May 6, 2013 1532673X13482967
1.» AbstractFree
2.Full Text (PDF)
Often, schools are segregated by both race and class. Class identification is very important in education because of class and peer support for education achievement and the value placed on education by social class groups.

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The ‘school-to-prison pipeline’    https://drwilda.com/2012/11/27/the-school-to-prison-pipeline/
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