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Teacher support and encouragement are important in building up a student’s confidence and helping them succeed. But who is encouraged more? And how does race play a factor who teachers believe more in?

For “Who Believes in Me? The Effect of Student-Teacher Demographic Match on Teacher Expectations,” researchers from Johns Hopkins University analyzed data from more than 8,000 10th grader students. Teachers were asked to share their own personal judgments of how far their students would achieve.

What they found was eye-opening.

The study suggests that looking at the same Black student, white teachers are nearly 40 percent less likely than Black teachers to predict that the student will graduate with a high school degree and that white teachers are 30 percent less likely to believe their Black students will finish a four-year degree at college, NBC News reported. 


Researchers also found the following:

  • White male teachers are 10 to 20 percent more likely to have low expectations for Black female students.
  • Black female teachers are more optimistic when predicting the future of Black boys compared to any other teachers of a different race and ethnicity.
  • Non-Black teachers were 5 percent more likely to think the Black male students wouldn’t graduate with a high school degree compared to Black female students.
  • Math teachers were significantly more likely to have low expectations for female students.

This racial bias can have long-lasting effects, the authors noted.

They found that for Black students, particularly Black boys, having a non-Black teacher in a 10th grade subject made them much less likely to pursue that subject by enrolling in similar classes. Translation: If a white chemistry teacher makes a Black student feel inferior about science, that same student may not want to continue on in that field. This is especially problematic given that the lack of Black students in STEM and other sciences.

“If I’m a teacher and decide that a student isn’t any good, I may be communicating that to the student,”said co-author Nicholas Papageorge. He added, “A teacher telling a student they’re not smart will weigh heavily on how that student feels about their future and perhaps the effort they put into doing well in school.”

He told NBC, “Perfectly capable, smart, intelligent people are not reaching their full potential, and that’s a waste. We’re throwing potential away.”

They sure are and what a shame.


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Study: White Teachers More Likely to Doubt The Potential of Black Students  was originally published on