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The Effects of Teacher Match on Academic Perceptions and Attitudes

Abstract

"Research has demonstrated positive benefits for students assigned to demographically similar teachers. Because teachers are more likely to be white and female than their students, however, demographic mismatches may contribute to racial and gender achievement gaps. Using data from six U.S. school districts collected by the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project and a teacher fixed effects approach, we estimate how assignment to a demographically-similar teacher affects student reports of personal effort, happiness in class, feeling cared for, student- teacher communication, post-secondary motivation, and academic engagement, as well as student achievement. Because students were randomly assigned to teachers in the second year of the MET project, we can also test the robustness of our findings in light of concerns about nonrandom sorting of students to teachers. Our results show that students assigned to a demographically congruent teacher experience important benefits in terms of academic perceptions and attitudes. The largest benefits are demonstrated by black male students assigned to black male teachers and by black female students assigned to black female teachers. We find little convincing evidence of test score impacts associated with student/teacher demographic pairings."

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