What Explains the Race Gap in Teacher Performance Ratings? Evidence from Chicago Public Schools
What Explains the Race Gap in Teacher Performance Ratings? Evidence from Chicago Public Schools

Published Online in:
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
December 10, 2020

Matthew P. SteinbergGeorge Mason University
Lauren Sartain, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Racial gaps in teacher performance ratings have emerged nationwide across newly implemented educator evaluation systems. Using Chicago Public Schools data, we quantify the magnitude of the race gap in teachers’ classroom observation scores, examine its determinants, and describe the potential implications for teacher diversity. Between-school differences explain most of the race gap and within-school classroom-level differences—poverty, incoming achievement, and prior-year misconduct of a teacher’s students—explain the remainder of the race gap. Teachers’ value-added scores explain none of the race gap. Leveraging within-teacher variation in the teacher–evaluator race match, we find that racial mismatch does not influence observation scores. Adjusting observation scores for classroom and school context will generate more equitable ratings of teacher performance and mitigate potential adverse consequences for teacher diversity.

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Study citation: Steinberg, M. P., & Sartain, L. (2020). What explains the race gap in teacher performance ratings? Evidence from Chicago Public Schools. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Prepublished December 10, 2020. http://doi.org/10.3102/0162373720970204

Author Video

Watch as study authors Matthew P. Steinberg (George Mason University) and Lauren Sartain (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) discuss the significance of their recent study published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.