Only about 2 percent of America’s teachers are Black men. According to a new study, one reason for the small numbers may be that Black male teachers face bias from administrators who monitor classroom performance and give them poor evaluations. This, in turn, may lead to lower job satisfaction among Black male teachers, fewer promotions, and more Black men leaving the teaching profession.
The was co-authored by Jason Grissom, the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Public Policy and Education at Vanderbilt University, and Brendan Bartanen, an assistant professor of education at the University of Virginia. They examined more than 460,000 classroom observations between the 2011–12 and 2018–19 school years in the state of Tennesse. Teachers in the state typically undergo between two and five observations each year, and the overwhelming majority are rated on 19 indicators of instruction, environment, and planning.
Women received higher evaluations than men. And Whites received higher evaluations than Blacks. As a result, Black men were the lowest-rated group. The Black-White gap is largest in schools where Black teachers are racially isolated and is partly explained by Black teachers’ propensity to be assigned less advantaged students within their schools. But even when comparing similarly credentialed teachers whose pupils achieved at about the same level, White and female teachers were rated higher than Black men.
The authors state that “at a time of growing interest in increasing teacher diversity, it is valuable to understand factors that may affect the work experiences of teachers who are already underrepresented in the classroom and potentially push them to exit the teaching workforce. Further investigation to understand the sources of these gaps is key to identifying solutions. Yet the presence of gaps across schools with so many different characteristics suggests the need for several next steps to address them to ensure that teachers are evaluated fairly.”
The full study, “Potential Race and Gender Biases in High-Stakes Teacher Observations,” was published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. It may be accessed here.