- A new study from Johns Hopkins University found that when black teachers are present in the classroom, especially during 3rd through 5th grade, there is a decrease in black students' likelihood of dropping out of school later on and an increase in their likelihood to pursue higher education.
- The study expanded on the idea that black students have higher test scores when they have black teachers, and it found particularly positive impacts on black boys from low-income backgrounds.
- There was not a significant difference for students who had one black teacher versus several, and the authors concluded a drastic difference could be made in minority student achievement with just one black teacher in the course of their academic careers.
A previous study by the authors of this report found that race played a big part in teachers' expectations of students. And since teachers' expectations of students — and their belief that students can achieve more — often propels students to reach higher, it cannot be denied that the race of teachers matters for more than just role modeling and situational empathy. This makes efforts like the recently-announced initiative between five historically black colleges and universities and State Higher Education Executive Officers Association to increase the number of black male teachers in K-12 education even more critical.
While the study focused on the K-12 arena the conclusions extend to higher education as well. Hiring faculty and administrators of color helps students of color to avoid the sense of "otherness" that often arises on a majority of campuses and encourages persistence.
But another key piece of the puzzle is providing adequate professional development opportunities for teachers of all colors to ensure they are dismantling their own biases and promoting growth mindset in all students. And it is not enough to simply hire teachers and faculty of color, but efforts must be made to support and retain them, and to help them avoid burnout. Teachers of color, especially black male teachers, often report feeling districts channel a higher proportion of students with emotional or behavioral challenges their way, and many black faculty report greater amounts of time spent mentoring and "other-mothering" students in their schools. Administrators should take care to ensure balanced class distribution and adequate planning and development time, and should avoid tokenism by ensuring there are enough teachers of color on staff to help promote greater retention.