Better teaching can improve student behavior and close the racial discipline gap, suggests a new study published in School Psychology Review. Virginia middle and high school teachers who received coaching in improving instruction referred fewer students for discipline: Blacks were no more likely to be referred than other students.
The “teacher coaching did not explicitly focus on equity or implicit bias, or draw teachers’ attention to their interactions with black students,” reports Madeline Will in Education Week Teacher. “It was focused on skills in effectively interacting with any student.”
When teachers have high expectations and facilitate “higher level thinking skills, problem solving, and metacognition,” students are more engaged and better behaved, researchers concluded.
“The findings held when accounting for risk factors including students’ achievement levels, gender, economic status, and teacher characteristics like race and experience,” writes Will.
Teachers in the control group, who received no mentoring or feedback, referred black students for discipline more than twice as much as whites.
After the two-year program ended, the teachers who’d received coaching continued to show no evidence of a racial discipline gap.
Unfortunately, the study didn’t analyze the achievement gap, but it’s a good guess that more engaged, better-behaved students also learn more.