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Ask a REL Response

Student Outcomes Relative to Same or Similar Teacher and Student Demographics — September 2021


Could you provide research on the relationship between student outcomes for teachers and students with the same or similar demographics as one another?


Following an established REL West research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports and resources on the relationship between student outcomes for teachers and students with the same or similar demographics. The sources we searched included ERIC, Google Scholar, and PsychInfo. (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your reference. Also, we searched for references through the most commonly used sources of research, but the list is not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Access to the full articles is free unless indicated otherwise.

Research References

Banerjee, N. (2018). Effects of teacher-student ethnoracial matching and overall teacher diversity in elementary schools on educational outcomes. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 32(1), 94–118. Abstract available from and full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “The United States is facing culture gaps between students and teachers in schools. Although the U.S. school-age population is racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse, the teachers are predominantly White. This article investigates whether assignment to same-race teachers affects students’ math and reading achievement growth in early elementary grades. The article also examines if overall teacher diversity in schools moderates the relationship between student-teacher ethnoracial match and achievement growth. This study finds that assignment to same-race teachers has no effect on minority students’ math and reading achievement growth between kindergarten and 3rd grade. However, the overall teacher diversity in school does affect whether minority teachers are effective educators for minority students. This interactive effect is significant for math and reading achievement growth among Hispanic students. Hispanic teachers are most effective as educators for Hispanic students when these teachers also teach in schools with greater teacher diversity. Hispanic teachers are least effective as educators for Hispanic students when these teachers work in schools with low teacher diversity.”

Battey, D., Leyva, L. A., Williams, I., Belizario, V. A., Greco, R., & Shah, R. (2018). Racial (mis)match in middle school mathematics classrooms: Relational interactions as a racialized mechanism. Harvard Educational Review, 88(4), 455–482. Abstract available from full text available from

From the abstract: “While research has consistently shown the positive effects of having a teacher of the same race on various student outcomes, the literature has not examined how racial match affects the everyday interactions within classrooms. This research article by Dan Battey, Luis A. Leyva, Immanuel Williams, Victoria A. Belizario, Rachel Greco, and Roshni Shah addresses this underexplored area by documenting relational interactions in classrooms to find one mechanism that could be producing racialized effects on learning. Using a dataset from a study of twenty-five mathematics classrooms across predominantly white and black US middle schools, they examine the quality of relational interactions when teachers and students are racially matched and mismatched, as well as the effects on student achievement in mathematics. Their analysis shows how various dimensions of relational interactions significantly predict increases and decreases in achievement due to racial match.”

Darling-Aduana, J. (2021). A remote instructor like me: Student–teacher congruence in online, high school courses. AERA Open, 7, 23328584211018719. Full text available from

From the abstract: “Students belonging to marginalized groups experience positive impacts when taught by a teacher of the same race, ethnicity, and gender. The unique nature of standardized, asynchronous online course taking allows for greater separation of any possible educational benefits of student versus teacher-driven mechanisms contributing to these improved outcomes. Using a student-by-course fixed effect strategy on data from a large urban school district, I examined associations between whether students experienced racial/ethnic or gender congruence with their remote instructor and both engagement and learning outcomes. Students who identified as Black demonstrated higher rates of engagement, although no difference in achievement, within lessons taught by a same-race remote instructor. I find that representation is associated with engagement even when instructors follow closely scripted lessons, representation occurs in only small doses, and instruction occurs in an impersonal setting.”

Driessen, G. (2015). Teacher ethnicity, student ethnicity, and student outcomes. Intercultural Education, 26(3), 179–191. Abstract available from full text available from

From the abstract: “A review of the empirical literature was conducted to establish the relation between teacher and student ethnicity, and cognitive and noncognitive student outcomes. It was hypothesized that ethnic teacher-student congruence results in more favorable outcomes for especially minority students. A total of 24 quantitative studies focusing on primary and secondary education in the United States were reviewed. The results show that there is as yet little unambiguous empirical evidence that a stronger degree of ethnic match be it in the form of a one-to-one coupling of a teacher to students with the same ethnic background, or a larger share of ethnic minority teachers at an ethnically mixed school, leads to predominantly positive results. Insofar positive effects were found, they apply to a greater extent to subjective teacher evaluations than to objective achievement outcome measures.”

Gershenson, S., Hart, C. M., Hyman, J., Lindsay, C., & Papageorge, N. W. (2018). The long-run impacts of same-race teachers (No. w25254). National Bureau of Economic Research. Full text available from

From the abstract: “We examine the long-run impacts of exposure to a Black teacher for both Black and white students. Leveraging data from the Tennessee STAR class-size experiment, we show that Black students randomly assigned to at least one Black teacher in grades K–3 are 9 percentage points (13%) more likely to graduate from high school and 6 percentage points (19%) more likely to enroll in college than their same-school, same-race peers. No effect is found for white students. We replicate these findings using quasi-experimental methods to analyze a richer administrative data set from North Carolina. The increase in postsecondary enrollments is concentrated in two-year degree programs, which is somewhat concerning because two-year colleges have both lower returns and lower completion rates than four-year colleges and universities. These long-run effects are also concentrated among Black males from disadvantaged backgrounds, which is not evident in short run analyses of same-race teachers’ impacts on test scores. These nuanced patterns are of policy relevance themselves and also underscore the importance of directly examining long-run treatment effects as opposed to extrapolating from estimated short-run effects.”

Gershenson, S., Holt, S. B., & Papageorge, N. (2015). Who believes in me? The effect of student-teacher demographic math on teacher expectations. Economics of Education Review, 52, 209–224. Full text available from

From the abstract: “Teachers are an important source of information for traditionally disadvantaged students. However, little is known about how teachers form expectations and whether they are systematically biased. We investigate whether student–teacher demographic mismatch affects high school teachers’ expectations for students’ educational attainment. Using a student fixed effects strategy that exploits expectations data from two teachers per student, we find that non-black teachers of black students have significantly lower expectations than do black teachers. These effects are larger for black male students and math teachers. Our findings add to a growing literature on the role of limited information in perpetuating educational attainment gaps.”

Gottfried, M., Kirksey, J. J., & Fletcher, T. L. (2021). Do high school students with a same-race teacher attend class more often? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 01623737211032241. Full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “Teachers of color increase school success for students of color. Yet, little attention has been paid to whether school attendance behaviors also increase from same race and ethnicity matches. To address this, our study used administrative data provided by a California high school district for the school years 2014 to 2018. We explored student absenteeism at the date and class period levels. Using this rich, longitudinal data set, we employed grade, school, class period, student, and date fixed effects models to examine the association between student–teacher matches and student absenteeism. Student–teacher race and ethnicity matches were associated with fewer unexcused absences for Latinx students. The results also indicate that associations were strongest for Latinx students in 11th and 12th grades—the age group in K–12 that has the most individual agency when it comes to getting to school. Furthermore, we found no evidence of declines in excused absences, which reflect health.”

Gottfried, M. A., Kirksey, J. J., & Wright, A. (2019). Same-race student-teacher: Comparing outcomes for kindergartners with and without disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 40(4), 225–235. Abstract available from and full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “Although numerous studies have examined if students of color benefit from having a teacher of the same race/ethnicity, all attention has been paid to students without disabilities. We examine whether the same benefits hold for students with disabilities (SWDs). Using a nationally representative data set of kindergartners, we explored whether SWDs of color had different academic and social-emotional outcomes when with a teacher of the same race/ethnicity. We compared students of color with and without disabilities in the same classroom with regard to a same-race teacher match. Unlike students without disabilities, we do not find evidence in the data set that SWDs of color benefit from a same-race teacher match in terms of achievement and social-emotional development. Implications with regard to educational equity are discussed.”

Grissom, J. A., Kabourek, S. E., & Kramer, J. W. (2020). Exposure to same-race or same-ethnicity teachers and advanced math course-taking in high school: Evidence from a diverse urban district. Teachers College Record, 122(7), 1–42. Abstract available from and full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “Background/Context: Research links advanced mathematics course-taking to important later outcomes, including college graduation and earnings, yet many students fail to progress into higher math courses as they move through high school. Black and Hispanic high school students are less likely than their white peers to take advanced math courses. A complex set of factors inform decisions about student course-taking, but teachers play key roles, including providing information about courses, giving students encouragement, helping students form aspirations (e.g., through role modeling), and serving as gatekeepers via grade assignment and formal recommendations. At the same time, growing empirical evidence suggests that students from different racial/ethnic groups benefit from being taught by teachers with similar demographic backgrounds, which motivates an analysis connecting math teacher–student racial or ethnic congruence with progression into higher math courses in high school. Purpose: We investigate the degree to which having a math teacher of the same race or ethnicity predicts subsequent enrollment in more advanced high school math courses, as well as in honors and Advanced Placement (AP) math courses. We also investigate potential mechanisms, including impacts of student–teacher congruence on course grades and standardized test performance, which may in turn predict a higher likelihood of advanced math course enrollment. Setting: We examine student-level administrative data from high schools in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the fourth largest school district in the United States. Research Design: We estimate the likelihood that a student will take a higher level math course as a function of student–teacher racial/ethnic congruence, plus student, teacher, and classroom characteristics, and school fixed effects. This research design compares later math course-taking between students with and without race/ethnicity-congruent teachers within the same school, holding a variety of other factors constant. We estimate similar models for honors and AP course-taking. We also estimate models for math course grades and end-of-course (EOC) exam scores using school-by-course and student fixed effects. Findings/Results: We find that high school students with a same-race or same-ethnicity teacher are more likely to take a higher math course in the next year than other students taking the same course in the same school. Associations are largest for Black students, who are 2 percentage points more likely to advance to a higher math course when taught by a Black teacher. Having a demographically similar teacher is also associated with movement into honors and AP courses in the next term, on average, though results vary by student subgroup. Students receive higher EOC scores and higher grades when taught by a demographically similar teacher, with higher grades even than what would be predicted by their EOC score, particularly in algebra. Conclusions/Recommendations: Our analysis contributes to growing evidence on the importance of teacher diversity for outcomes for students from minoritized groups and is among only a very small set of studies that demonstrate teachers’ impacts on student outcomes not just for one year, but also in subsequent years. Our results underscore the importance of efforts to recruit and retain teachers of color, particularly in high schools. We recommend future research to better understand the mechanisms linking diverse teachers to student course-taking outcomes.”

Hart, C. M. D. (2020). An honors teacher like me: Effects of access to same-race teachers on Black students’ advanced-track enrollment and performance. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 42(2), 163–187. Abstract available from and full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “Using rich administrative data from North Carolina and school-course fixed effects models, this study explores whether the availability of same-race instructors in advanced-track sections of courses affects Black high school students’ enrollment in, and performance in, advanced-track courses. The availability of at least one Black instructor at the advanced level is associated with a 2 percentage point increase in the uptake of advanced courses for Black students. However, conditional on enrollment in the advanced track, Black students are no more likely to pass advanced-track courses when taught by Black teachers. Positive effects on enrollment are driven by enrollment shifts for higher achieving students. Additional analyses showing benefits to non-Black students suggest that the main channels are not race-specific role model effects.”

Joshi, E., Doan, S., & Springer, M. G. (2018). Student-teacher race congruence: New evidence and insight from Tennessee. AERA Open, 4(4), 2332858418817528. Full text available from

From the abstract: “Our work aims to substantiate and extend earlier findings on the effects of student-teacher race matching on academic achievement using longitudinal data for students in Grades 3 through 8 in Tennessee. We examine heterogenous effects not only by racial subgroup and student preparedness, as explored in prior literature, but also by levels of teacher effectiveness, drawing on data from the state’s teacher evaluation system. We find that student-teacher race congruence does not have a significant overall effect on test scores. However, subgroup analyses reveal a positive, significant race-match effect in elementary school math. We observe meaningful effects for Black students in both reading and math, race-matched students in the bottom-most preparedness quartile in math, and race-matched students assigned to teachers in the middle two teacher performance quartiles in math. Our results align with prior findings, emphasizing that race-match effects transcend state borders. Findings support policy efforts to diversify the educator labor force.”

Lindsay, C. A., & Hart, C. M. D. (2017). Exposure to same-race teachers and student disciplinary outcomes for Black students in North Carolina. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 39(3), 485–510. Abstract available from full text available from

From the abstract: “Using student-level administrative data from North Carolina, we explore whether exposure to same-race teachers affects the rate at which Black students receive exclusionary discipline, such as out-of-school suspensions, in-school suspensions, and expulsion. We find consistent evidence that exposure to same-race teachers is associated with reduced rates of exclusionary discipline for Black students. This relationship holds for elementary, middle, and high school grade ranges for male and female students, and for students who do and do not use free and reduced-price lunch. Although we find reductions in referrals for a number of different types of offenses, we find particularly consistent evidence that exposure to same-race teachers lowers office referrals for willful defiance across all grade levels, suggesting that teacher discretion plays a role in driving our results.”

Redding, C. (2019). A teacher like me: A review of the effect of student-teacher racial/ethnic matching on teacher perception of student and student academic and behavioral outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 89(4), 499–535. Abstract available from and full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “Considerable research has examined the positive educational experiences of students of color assigned to teachers of the same race or ethnicity. Underlying this research is the belief that the cultural fit between students and teachers has the potential to improve a child’s academic and nonacademic performance in school. This comprehensive review examines the extent to which Black and Latino/a students (1) receive more favorable ratings of classroom behavior and academic performance, (2) score higher on standardized tests, and (3) have more positive behavioral outcomes when assigned to a teacher of the same race/ethnicity. Assignment to a same-race teacher is associated with more favorable teacher ratings, although the relationship differs by school level. There is fairly strong evidence that Black students score higher on achievement tests when assigned to a Black teacher. Less consistent evidence is found for Latino/a students.”

Wright, A., Gottfried, M. A., & Le, V. (2017). A kindergarten teacher like me: The role of student-teacher race in social-emotional development. American Educational Research Journal, 54(1-suppl), 78S–101S. Abstract available from and full text available for a fee from

From the abstract: “Our nation’s classrooms have become increasingly racially and ethnically diverse. Given these demographic changes, many policymakers and practitioners have expressed the need for increased attention to how teacher diversity might be linked to reducing racial/ethnic differences in teachers’ ratings of social-emotional skills for students of color. Using the most recent nationally representative data, we investigated whether kindergarteners have different social-emotional ratings when they had a teacher whose racial/ethnic group was the same as their own. We found that having a teacher of the same race was unrelated to teachers’ ratings of children’s internalizing problem behaviors, interpersonal skills, approaches to learning, and self-control. However, students whose teachers’ race/ethnicity matched their own had more favorable ratings of externalizing behaviors. Results are discussed in terms of implications for school disciplinary policies.”


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used:

[Teachers AND students AND (“similar demographics” OR “similar background” OR “similar race” OR “similar ethnicity” OR “same demographics” OR “same background” OR “same race” OR “same ethnicity”) AND “student outcomes”]

Databases and Resources

We searched Google Scholar and ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When searching and selecting resources to include, we consider the criteria listed below.

  • Date of the Publication: References and resources published within the last 15 years, from 2006 to present, were included in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations and academic databases. Priority is also given to sources that provide free access to the full article.
  • Methodology: Priority is given to the most rigorous study designs, such as randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental designs, and we may also include descriptive data analyses, survey results, mixed-methods studies, literature reviews, or meta-analyses. Other considerations include the target population and sample, including their relevance to the question, generalizability, and general quality. Priority is given to publications that are peer-reviewed journal articles or reports reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations. If there are many research reports available, we select those with the strongest methodology, or the most recent of similar reports. When there are fewer resources available, we may include a broader range of information. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the West Region (Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory West at WestEd. This memorandum was prepared by REL West under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0012, administered by WestEd. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.