White teachers’ low expectations for their black students could become “self-fulfilling prophecies,” concludes an analysis published in Education Next.
When evaluating the same black student, 33 percent of black teachers expected the student to finish college, compared to 24 percent of white teachers, the study found. There was no difference in predictions for white students.
Teacher expectations affect student success, conclude Seth Gershenson, a public policy professor at American University, and Nicholas Papageorge, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins. “White teachers, who comprise the vast majority of American educators, have far lower expectations for black students than they do for similarly situated white students.”
All teachers are overly optimistic about all students’ college odds, the researchers noted. However, “since positive expectations increase students’ likelihood of going to college, the greater optimism heaped upon white students magnifies black-white gaps in college completion.”
Hiring more teachers of color and improving training for teachers would help, Gershenson and Papageorge writes. They also suggest improving college readiness, so more students really are on track for college success.
A white high school teacher told her not to apply to UCLA, writes Desiree Martinez. “Start at a community college, kids from this community just aren’t ready for (UCLA), the counselors are just setting you up for disappointment,” the teacher said.
Her AP U.S. History teacher, a Latino, encouraged her to aim high.
A UCLA graduate, Martinez now works for a multi-media company.