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Students of All Races Prefer Teachers of Color, Study Finds

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A new study has found that students of all races respond more favorably to teachers of color than to white teachers.

Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng and Peter Halpin of New York University looked at questionnaires completed by students of 1,700 sixth- through ninth-grade teachers at more than 300 schools across the country to determine their findings, NPR reports.

With questions like, “How much does this teacher challenge his students?” and “How captivating does she make the subject?” the responses showed that students of all races, including white students, had overall more positive views of their Latino versus white teachers in all seven categories in the survey. They also had more positive views of their black teachers compared to their white teachers in at least two of the categories. The strongest positive relationship was between Asian-American students and black teachers.

Cherng told NPR that he believes the “surprising” results may be because teachers of color can talk about their own experiences with race and gender in the classroom. His study could be used in education policy: “These findings underscore the importance of minority teacher recruitment and retention,” says the study’s abstract.

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Write to Tessa Berenson Rogers at tessa.Rogers@time.com