When working with students of color, particularly Black students, teachers lower down the rigor of assignments, ask fewer open-ended questions, and assign worksheets instead of group assignments, according to a new study out of New York University. Researchers point to racial biases about the academic abilities of students of color as a major factor.
“It’s not this overt ‘I have more Black students, I’m going to be racist,’ but I think it’s that when they go into a classroom that has more Black students it’s instinctual that the teachers actually kind of lower their standards. They use less-rigorous instruction,” said Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng, an NYU associate professor and sociologist and lead author of the study.
Research in the past has focused on how Black and Latino students are more likely than white peers to have teachers with one year or less of experience in the classroom, which can correlate with lower educational outcomes. But Cherng and his co-authors found that racial bias came into play in classroom instruction regardless of the teacher’s credentials or racial background.