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Representation in the Classroom: The Effect of Own-Race Teachers on Student Achievement

Abstract

"Previous research suggests that there are academic benefits when students and teachers share the same race/ethnicity because such teachers can serve as role models, mentors, advocates, or cultural translators. In this paper, we obtain estimates of achievement changes as students are assigned to teachers of different races/ethnicities from grades 3 through 10 utilizing a large administrative dataset provided by the Florida Department of Education that follows the universe of test-taking students in Florida public schools from 2001-2002 through 2008-2009. We find small but significant positive effects when black and white students are assigned to race-congruent teachers in reading (.004-.005 standard deviations) and for black, white and Asian/Pacific Island students in math (.007-.041 standard deviations). We also examine the effects of race matching by students' prior performance level, finding that lower-performing black and white students appear to particularly benefit from being assigned to a race-congruent teacher."

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