Texas Study Finds Race of Teacher Has Little Impact on Black Student Performance

A study by Walter Hunt, an assistant principal in the Houston public schools and a recent graduate of the executive education doctorate in professional leadership program at the University Houston, found that young African American students do not necessarily perform better in classrooms taught by Black teachers.

Hunt’s data focused on eighth grade students in 198 Texas public schools in lower-income neighborhoods. He found that there was no significant correlation between the academic achievement of Black students and whether or not they had a Black teacher. His data also showed that the educational achievement gap between African American and White students was greater at schools with a larger percentage of Black teachers.

Dr. Hunt stated, “it would appear that teacher race doesn’t matter when addressing student achievement. This just goes to show that having a positive impact on students is a complex, multi-layered process.”

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Comments (7)

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  1. Ed Bell, EdD says:

    The sample was with lower income students; poor kids and their parents tend to “look up” to whites with power! Middle class and up kids—I wonder the results.

    “His data also showed that the educational achievement gap between African American and White students was greater at schools with a larger percentage of Black teachers.”

    What were the qualifications of these teachers; highly qualified; level of effectiveness.

    Typically, all black schools or the majority of black teachers in a school “tend” to staff less effective teachers. Therefore, performance of students are questionable–is it the teacher or the students.

    Interesting study–Dr. Hunt. I look to read it.

    I tend to believe that, in SOME cases, it is the heart and not the color.

  2. Mary Northington says:

    There are so many variables here and so many factors to be considered that one must consider Dr. Hunt’s study as observational rather than conclusive. As Dr. Bell suggests, among the factors are the heart and the color. I would concur with Dr. Hunt’s note that “having a positive impact on students is a complex multi-layered process.”

  3. STEPHEN PAUL DELSOL says:

    I have not read Dr. Hunt’s research. I am, therefore, reserving more detailed comments about his research design for a later date.

    I want to take issue with Dr. Hunt’s conclusion that “it would appear that teacher race doesn’t matter when addressing student achievement.”

    Correlation is not causation. Just because Dr. Hunt found a statistically significant difference between a high number of black teachers and low achievement of black students, does not mean that black teachers, generally, do not increase black students’ achievement.

    There is a vicious interaction in low income neighborhood schools between student achievements and teachers with insecure subject knowledge, large class sizes, classroom management challenges, and high percentage of students on free and reduced school meals from families with multiple deprivations.

    This research finding is highly significant, politically, especially, in an election year. Dr. Hunt’s findings will play very well to a particular political ideology that want to limit the number of African Americans availing themselves of a college education and becoming teachers.

  4. KJ says:

    This is not surprising. It is not the race of the teacher that matters. It is about the care and concern shown towards the student. The reason people are surprised and believe race matters is because black people tend to care more about their own kind and white people tend to care more about their own kind. BUT that is not to say that there are not black teachers that care about white students and vice versa.

    Care and concern makes kids do better in school, not race. Kids don’t care about the color of a teacher’s skin.

  5. Radical says:

    For me to argue with a professional and a doctoral degree recipient is quite abnormal. To me, Dr. Hunt’s research demonstrates that the Black community simply needs to put their attention on high self-esteem and self-determiniation. In many ways, I agree with Dr. Hunt as well as disagree. With hope, Dr. Hunt researched social and emotional issues as well as academic achievement. As a part-time life skills instructor I understand social/emotional situations influence students academic successes. Maybe these eighth grade students lived in a two-parent household instead of one or maybe there were very few with incarcerated parents. These are the things that impact academic achievement. When a Black teacher is in the equation it helps those students who suffer from social woes by replacing that teacher with the biological character in reality. But before I jump to my 4-year B.A. degree conclusion, I’d be interested in reading about Dr. Hunt’s research! Despite the differences (if any) awesome read!

  6. Concerned Black Teacher in TX says:

    As a current black teacher and future administrator I share concern with the results of this study and how it will be politically received as well as the message that it may send. Caring for your students does indeed have a significant impact on student learning no matter what color the teacher is. The student doesn’t care until they know that YOU care. However, I believe that there is credibility to being able to see another teacher that looks like you on campus has validity as well for students especially at the secondary level where black teachers (in the core areas) are far and few.

    Quality black teachers must continue to come through the pipeline and be given opportunities to prosper and not just be given or looked at as the problem solver of difficult children. I think that we must not be generalized. To say that students didn’t perform well in settings where there were all black teachers is sending the wrong message. Questions need to be asked why is that? What systems of support were given to these teachers? How long is the tenure of the black teachers on the campus etc? Why was this the case? What have been the long lasting implications of this situation? Perhaps this could be an additional study. Please don’t generalize black teachers because the perception that this report could potentially send is that black teachers are inadequate and not fit to teach even our own students. This is so far from the truth.

  7. Kim Washington says:

    Hunt knew this would not only be insulting to African-American teachers but that it would get recognition. Internal hate is scary. If it wasn’t for Black teachers in my entire education I would not be who I am. I look forward to seeing all students achieve but especially Black students because it is people like Hunt who will make them think its all for not. Shame on your study results.

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