National Bureau of Economic Research

The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers

Posted on January 29, 2019

by Seth Gershenson, Cassandra M. D. Hart, Joshua Hyman, Constance Lindsay, Nicholas W. Papageorge
NBER Working Paper No. 25254
Issued in November 2018

We examine the impact of having a same-race teacher on students’ long-run educational attainment. Leveraging random student-teacher pairings in the Tennessee STAR class-size experiment, we find that black students randomly assigned to a black teacher in grades K-3 are 5 percentage points (7%) more likely to graduate from high school and 4 percentage points (13%) more likely to enroll in college than their peers in the same school who are not assigned a black teacher. We document similar patterns using quasi-experimental methods and statewide administrative data from North Carolina. To examine possible mechanisms, we provide a theoretical model that formalizes the notion of “role model effects” as distinct from teacher effectiveness. We envision role model effects as information provision: black teachers provide a crucial signal that leads black students to update their beliefs about the returns to effort and what educational outcomes are possible. Using testable implications generated by the theory, we provide suggestive evidence that role model effects help to explain why black teachers increase the educational attainment of black students.

Download the full report here: https://www.nber.org/papers/w25254


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