Constance Lindsay, Assistant Professor, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Teacher-Student Demographic Match and Identification for Discretionary Educational Placements
A never-growing body a research has demonstrated the positive impacts on students of color from being matched to a same race teacher. At the same time, scholars have investigated the role of discretionary educational placements in both mitigating and perpetuating persistently stubborn achievement gaps. We build on these two strands of literature to determine whether access to same-race teachers is associated with the likelihood that children enter gifted programs or begin services for exceptional students. We build on past research on this question (e.g., Grissom & Redding, 2016) using a stronger set of quasi-experimental techniques to extract more plausibly causal estimates of this relationship. We harness a rich state longitudinal dataset that identifies the type of exceptionality students are served for to determine whether any effects of exposure to Black teachers comes primarily through exceptionalities that are subject to a greater degree of discretion in identification of the disability. And we explore whether the availability of Black teachers affects the extent to which students are included in classes with mainstream peers. We also take advantage of the data to look at heterogeneity in effects of exposure to Black teachers, looking at differences by student characteristics (like socioeconomic status, sex, and student age) as well as school characteristics (like charter status or urbanicity of the school). Preliminary findings indicate that Black teachers are associated with lower rates of identification with exceptionalities for Black boys, with results being especially strong for economically-disadvantaged boys and for categories like specific learning disabilities that have a more subjective component to diagnosis.