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White Teachers Expect Less Than Black Teachers From Black Students

In yet another sign that the lack of teacher diversity is a pressing issue, a new study suggests that white teachers expect less academic success from black students than black teachers do from the same students.

The study, conducted by Johns Hopkins University, found that when a white teacher and a black teacher consider the same black student, the white teacher is 30 percent less likely to think the student will graduate from a four-year college. White teachers, the researchers also found, are nearly 40 percent less likely to think their black students will graduate from high school.

“One of [the teachers] has to be wrong,” Nicholas Papageorge, a co-author and economist in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, said in a statement.

It bears repeating that while it is true that high-school graduation rates are lower for black students, the discrepancy has to do with unequal access to opportunity and resources, not innate ability. Black students are more likely to attend high-poverty schools with fewer resources, and to have less access than their white peers to advanced-placement courses. Student-to-counselor ratios are also much higher than recommended, a problem that is particularly troubling for poor students, who are disproportionately likely to come from families that lack experience navigating the college-admissions system.

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