Though students of color made up the majority of public school students beginning in fall 2016, teachers of color are severely underrepresented in the teacher workforce, potentially negatively affecting students’ outcomes. Evidence shows the value of a racial match between Black students and Black teachers on several outcomes, but we know much less about these effects for Hispanic students.
In this report, we study the effects of exposure to Hispanic teachers on Hispanic students’ scholastic and economic outcomes in Texas public schools. We use administrative data from state education agencies—accessed via the Texas Education Research Center—to study the impacts of Hispanic teachers on Hispanic students’ short- and medium-term outcomes (e.g., standardized exam scores, discipline rates, and high school dropout rates) and long-term scholastic outcomes (e.g., high school graduation rates, college enrollment, college persistence, and college graduation).
Using these data, we find that exposure to teachers of color significantly improves short- and medium-term outcomes among elementary school students of color, including disciplinary actions, dropout rates, and high school graduation. Teacher diversity also leads to significant increases in reading and math scores. We do not find conclusive evidence on the impacts of teacher diversity on long-term student outcomes such as college enrollment and graduation.
As the public school population grows more diverse, increasing the representation of teachers of color in the workforce is important for improving student experiences and outcomes. Additional research could help stakeholders and policymakers develop short- and long-term strategies to address challenges regarding teacher diversity and understand how teacher recruitment policies and teaching programs affect the workforce. By developing effective strategies, schools and districts can better serve students’ needs and positively affect student outcomes.