Research Findings: How Teachers Affect a Child’s Feelings About Race

by P.R.I.D.E. Team

The following is part of a series detailing research findings compiled by the P.R.I.D.E. Team. 
For more information, please visit our research page. Click here to view cited references.

Finding: Teacher-Student racial mismatch is continuing to increase.

  • Students of color are continuing to be a growing population in United States public schools, and at the same time the population of White, female teachers is growing. (Leonardo & Boas, 2013).
  • The National Center for Education Statistics published a report in 2000 predicting that students from “racially/ethnically diverse backgrounds” will be the majority in U.S. public schools by 2035 (as cited in Husband, 2012).
  • The majority of early childhood educators take a colorblind approach to teaching, which impedes students’ understanding of racism and the impact of race in society (see Husband, 2012).

Finding: Teachers have implicit racial biases that may negatively impact African American students.

  • In a study using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K), kindergarten teacher’s perceptions of Black and White students’ academic ability and social behavioral skills were assessed across two semesters. Though teachers’ ratings of both Black and White students’ academic ability improved across the two semesters, teachers rated Black students as having lower academic ability overall across semesters. Similarly, teachers rated Black children as having lower social behavioral skills than White children across both semesters (Minor, 2014).
  • Gilliam et al. (2016) found that when primed to expect challenging behavior in a video of preschool children, early childhood teachers and professionals looked longer at Black students – particularly Black boys.

Finding: Incorporating the arts into education is beneficial for African American children.

  • In a study of African American and White third graders, researchers found that African American students performed better on a cognitive assignment when they were provided an opportunity to listen to music and move freely, as compared to White students who performed better with no music and low body movement (Allen & Butler, 1996).

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