A new study by researchers at the University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning suggests that the racial or ethnic heritage of the teachers in the front of pre-kindergarten classrooms can make a big difference in the performance of students. The study led by Jason Downer, a professor in the Curry School of Education at the university, found students who had teachers of the same race or ethnic group tended to produce better results.
Among the findings were that Latino students who were in classrooms with Latino teachers did far better on literacy tests scores than Latino students who had teachers that were not Latino. African American boys in preschool programs had far fewer behavioral problems when they had an African American teachers than when they had a teachers of another race.
Professor Downer questioned whether “African-American teachers have a better understanding of African-American boys’ behavior, or have more culturally relevant tools to help with supporting African-American boys’ self-regulation in the classroom? Or is it that White teachers are over-reporting behavioral issues in African-American boys due to implicit biases? These would each lead to very different pre-service training and professional development for teachers.”
The study, “Teacher-Child Racial/Ethnic Match Within Pre-Kindergarten Classrooms and Children’s Early School Adjustment,” was published in the Early Childhood Research Quarterly. It may be accessed here.