Black primary-school students matched to a same-race teacher perform better on standardized tests and face more favorable teacher perceptions, yet little is known about the long-run, sustained impacts of student-teacher demographic match. We show that assigning a black male to a black teacher in the third, fourth, or fifth grades significantly reduces the probability that he drops out of high school, particularly among the most economically disadvantaged black males. Exposure to at least one black teacher in grades 3-5 also increases the likelihood that persistently low-income students of both sexes aspire to attend a four-year college. These findings are robust across administrative data from two states and multiple identification strategies, including an instrumental variables strategy that exploits within-school, intertemporal variation in the proportion of black teachers, family fixed-effects models that compare siblings who attended the same school, and the random assignment of students and teachers to classrooms created by the Project STAR class-size reduction experiment.
About the Speaker
Seth Gershenson is Associate Professor of Public Policy in American University’s School of Public Affairs. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from Michigan State University in 2011 and a B.S. in Economics from Drexel University in 2005. His primary research interests are in the economics of education, specifically issues relating to teacher labor markets, parents’ and students’ time use, summer learning loss, the development of character skills, and the role of expectations in the education production function. Dr. Gershenson’s research has been supported by the W.E. Upjohn Institute, the Spencer Foundation, and the American Educational Research Association and has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Economics of Education Review, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Economics Letters, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education Finance and Policy, and Transportation Research Part A.
The objective of the Causal Inference in Education Research Seminar (CIERS) is to engage students and faculty from across the university in conversations around education research using various research methodologies. This seminar provides a space for doctoral students and faculty from social science disciplines to discuss current research and receive feedback on works-in-progress. Discourse across schools and departments creates a more complete community of education scholars, and provides a networking opportunity for students enrolled in a variety of academic programs who share common research interests.
Our regular meeting schedule is Wednesday mornings from 8:30 to 10 am in Weill 3240 (3rd floor conference room). Check out our website to learn more and to sign up for the mailing list.