A Community College Instructor Like Me: Race and Ethnicity Interactions in the Classroom
Detailed administrative data from a large and diverse community college are used to examine whether academic performance depends on whether students are the same race or ethnicity as their instructors. To address the concern of endogenous sorting, we focus on students with restricted course enrollment options due to low registration priorities, courses with no within-term or within-year racial variation in instructors, and models that include both student and classroom fixed effects. Given the computational complexity of the 2-way fixed effects model we rely on numerical algorithms that exploit the particular structure of the model’s normal equations. We find that the performance gap in terms of class dropout and pass rates between white and underrepresented minority students falls by roughly half when taught by an underrepresented minority instructor. The racial performance gap in grades is also lower with minority instructors. Results from detailed racial interactions indicate that African-American students perform particularly better when taught by African-American instructors.
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This paper was revised on February 8, 2012