A comparison of the ratings of Black, Hispanic, and White childrens' academic performance and social adjustment as related to teachers' ethnocultural background

Amos Nelson Wilson, Fordham University


While the research literature consistently and clearly delineates several student characteristics which may serve as stimuli that evoke non-objective teacher attitudinal orientations, it has to a substantial extent not attempted to delineate the origins of such tendencies relative to the personality and other characteristics of teachers themselves. Studies were reviewed which seem to suggest that some of the non-objective attitudes held by teachers may be ethnoculturally and ethnocentrically based. That is, teachers' ethnocultural background experiences tend to influence their perceptions and evaluations of their students. A search of the relevant literature failed to locate any literature which have investigated the relationship between teachers' ethnocultural background and their actual evaluation of their students' academic and social performance, particularly when those students belong to different ethnic groups. This study was designed to determine if teachers, specifically, Black, Hispanic, and White elementary teachers, evaluate their students' academic and social performance in ways related to their ethnocultural backgrounds as well as those of their students. The subjects of this investigation were Black, Hispanic, and White elementary school teachers and 405 of their Black, Hispanic, and White students who taught and attended school in New York City. The total teacher sample consisted of 45 persons. The teachers' academic ratings of the students and the students' achievement test scores were taken from student report cards. Univariate and multivariate analyses of the collected data did not support the general hypotheses that the academic performance of White students would be rated significantly higher by the teachers as a whole than would Black and Hispanic students; that each teacher group would rate the performance of the student group which belonged to its own ethnic group, more favorably than the other teacher groups. The most parsimonious explanation of these results appears to be that the teachers were not significantly racially prejudiced toward either of the three student groups given the ethnically unbiased ways they evaluated their students' performance. Other plausible reasons for the lack of statistical support for the hypotheses were also considered. The findings of this investigation seem to suggest that factors other than teachers' or students' ethnicity may significantly influence teachers' ratings of students' performance under actual pedagogical conditions. In general, there may exist little or no significant relationship between teachers' ethnicity and a tendency to rate their students' performance ethnocentrically. Thus, the ethnocultural background of teachers may not be an important variable related to student achievement.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Social psychology|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Wilson, Amos Nelson, "A comparison of the ratings of Black, Hispanic, and White childrens' academic performance and social adjustment as related to teachers' ethnocultural background" (1991). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9215358.