How important are black teachers? A new study says having just one black teacher while in third, fourth or fifth grade reduces the chance low-income black students drop out of high school by 29 percent. For male students, that percentage jumps to 39 percent.
Black teachers also improved black students' desire to go to college. Having at least one black teacher in third, fourth or fifth grade raised low-income black male students' interest in college by 29 percent.
The study looked at about 100,000 black students who entered third grade in North Carolina public schools between 2001 and 2005. Researchers got similar results in a follow-up study on black students in Tennessee who entered kindergarten in the late 1980s.
A co-author on the study claims the encouraging part about this research is the immediacy with which schools can implement a solution.
"You could literally go into a school right now and switch around the rosters so that every black child gets to face a black teacher," Nicholas Papageorge said.
And this is not the first study to measure the tangible benefits black teachers have on black students. A study last year found that when evaluating the same black student, white teachers expected significantly less academic success than black teachers did.
Black female teachers were found to be the most optimistic about the ability of black boys to complete high school.