If a low-income black student has just one black teacher in elementary school, that student is significantly more likely to graduate from high school and consider attending college,finds.
A low-income black student’s probability of dropping out of school is reduced by 29 percent if he or she has one black teacher in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grades, finds the study published in March by the Institute of Labor Economics. That student is also 18 percent more likely to express interest in college. The effect was stronger for black boys from low-income homes: Their likelihood of dropping out of school falls by 39 percent if they have one black teacher, and they are 29 percent more likely to consider college.
Low-income black boys showed benefits from having a black teacher in grades 3 to 5.
SOURCE: Greg Stanley/Johns Hopkins University
Those results come from a longitudinal study that tracked 100,000 black students who entered 3rd grade in North Carolina public schools between 2001 and 2005 all the way up through 12th grade. Only 7 percent of public school teachers are black. Research has found that black teachers are less likely to suspend, expel, or give detention to black students, who are disproportionately disciplined.
A version of this article appeared in the April 19, 2017 edition of Education Week as Black Teachers Make a Difference