Direct and Moderated Effects of Teacher-Child Race/Ethnic Match and Children’s Social-Emotional and Academic Development

Sheniqua T Jeffrey, Fordham University


Teacher-child race/ethnic match may play a role in reducing the education achievement gap in America, where Black and Latinx children are most disadvantaged (NCES, 2018), as this match has been linked to improved social-emotional skills and increased reading and math achievement (Egalite et al., 2015; Rasheed et al., 2019; Yarnell & Bohrnstedt, 2018). However, the robustness of these beneficial effects is still uncertain as some studies report null effects of teacher-child race/ethnic match on child outcomes (Wright et al., 2017; Joshi et al., 2018). Further, most studies focus on the direct effects of match (Bates & Glick, 2013), with few examining the moderating role of classroom and teacher factors. Classroom race/ethnic diversity predicts improvements in children’s social-emotional outcomes (Rucinski et al., 2019), and has been found to buffer children from the negative effects of mismatch with their teachers (Rasheed et al., 2019). Conversely, teacher stress has been negatively associated with teacher–child relationship quality (Greenberg et al., 2017), but its role in teacher-child race/ethnic match effects has yet to be examined. This study examined the direct effects of teacher-child race/ethnic match on child social-emotional and academic outcomes across one school year in a sample of 265 third and fourth grade teachers and 3,891 of their children from 59 urban elementary schools. This study also examined whether teacher-child race/ethnic match effects were moderated by classroom race/ethnic diversity and teacher stress. Teacher-child race/ethnic match did not predict better child social-emotional or academic outcomes. Higher classroom race/ethnic diversity moderated teacher-child race/ethnic mismatch such that children had less conflict with teachers but also more reported aggressive behaviors. Higher teacher stress resulted in less child aggression and higher ELA scores, but also more conflict, conduct problems and decreased social competence. The current data highlight the importance of increasing culturally relevant pedagogy in elementary schools to improve equity in child social-emotional and academic outcomes.

Subject Area

Psychology|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Jeffrey, Sheniqua T, "Direct and Moderated Effects of Teacher-Child Race/Ethnic Match and Children’s Social-Emotional and Academic Development" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28089811.