Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Political Science


Gary Ritter

Committee Member

Thomas Smith

Second Committee Member

Brinck Kerr


Education, Public Policy, Race, Student Perceptions, Teacher Diversity, Teacher Workforce


In the wake of the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision, thousands of teachers of color lost their jobs as black students were integrated into mostly white schools. The number of black teachers in schools across the United States has never recovered resulting in a teaching workforce that is less diverse than the student population that they teach. Many studies have examined the possible impact of this discrepancy including the possibility that this has contributed to the black-white achievement gap that exists in the United States. Other studies have examined the non-academic impacts of a less diverse workforce including the impact on the perceptions of minority students. Indeed, our increased awareness of teacher diversity issues and the need for a more diverse teaching force is based on assumptions that student’s having a same-race teacher can be a positive thing. This study seeks to examine these assumptions by looking at how race may actually affect student perceptions of their teacher’s effectiveness and their relationship with that teacher. This study focuses on students and teachers in a low-income area of the state of Arkansas to assess student perceptions of their teachers on several key attributes of quality teaching. The aim of the study is to see if classrooms of students with similar races to that of their teacher perceive their teachers differently. More directly, do students share more favorable perceptions of their teacher’s effectiveness and relationships if they are of the same racial background? This study finds that students perceive that teachers of the same-race are more effective and have more positive relationships with them but this finding seems to be driven by white students matched with white teachers. The study does find that black students find the expectations and rigor of their same-race teachers to be higher. Last, the study does find that teachers of all races recruited and trained to teach specifically in high-minority, low-income areas have a positive impact on student perceptions of their teacher’s effectiveness and relationships. The study concludes with a call for more research and a continued push to diversity the teacher workforce.