Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Assessed by a Teacher Like Me: Race and Teacher Assessments

Access the publisher's website Education Finance and Policy 9, 3 (2014) 334-372

Do teachers assess same-race students more favorably? This paper uses nationally representative data on teacher assessments of student ability that can be compared with test scores to determine whether teachers give better assessments to same-race students. The data set follows students from kindergarten to grade 5, a period during which racial gaps in test scores increase rapidly. Teacher assessments comprise up to 20 items measuring specific skills. Using a unique within-student and within-teacher identification and while controlling for subject-specific test scores, I find that teachers do assess same-race students more favorably. Effects appear in kindergarten and persist thereafter. Robustness checks suggest that: student behavior does not explain this effect; same-race effects are evident in teacher assessments of most of the skills; grading “on the curve” should be associated with lower assessments; and measurement error in assessments or test scores does not significantly affect the estimates.