In a California district, Latinx students with Latinx teachers attend more school

While the teaching workforce continues to be heavily dominated by white teachers, in particular white women, the academic and social-emotional benefits for students of color of having a teacher who is their same race have been widely documented. Less studied is the impact that having a same-race teacher has on attendance.

In new research published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Penn Graduate School of Education’s Michael Gottfried, a professor in the Education Policy division, sets out to explore this question along with J. Jacob Kirksey from Texas Tech University and Tina L. Fletcher, a doctoral student at Penn GSE.

self-assured high school student in classroom

Gottfried, Kirksey, and Fletcher utilized data from a high school district in California with a large Latinx student population to investigate the influence of student-teacher racial and ethnic match on absenteeism. They found that Latinx students with Latinx teachers attend more school; this relationship does not exist for white students. Notably, this relationship only appears for unexcused absences, not excused absences. 

“This is important for our modeling because excused absences signal health issues. But unexcused absences are about school engagement,” Gottfried explains. These results also only emerged for 11th and 12th graders, and are the strongest when students had a same-race teacher for the first period of the day. Gottfried hypothesizes that this same-race relationship could be “what motivates kids early in the morning to get to school.”

 Read more at Penn GSE.