The Impact of a Principal’s Race

The Impact of a Principal’s Race

Teachers are more likely to stay in a school run by a principal of the same race as them, according to a new study.

Teachers are more likely to stay in a school run by a principal of the same race as they, according to a new study released by the University of Missouri (UM). The study also reports that when teachers share the same race as their principal, they experience higher job satisfaction in terms of compensation and intangible benefits such as administrative support and encouragement. The study, published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management in September, used data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

According to Lael Kaiser, associate professor at the Truman School of Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences at UM, black teachers in a school with a black principal believe they receive more encouragement than white teachers in a school with a black principal. On the contrary, white teachers in schools with a white principal did not report a higher feeling of encouragement. Black teachers in a school with a white principal reported receiving on average $500 less than their white colleagues. Kaiser authored the study with Jason Grissom, assistant professor at Vanderbilt University. Previous research, says Kaiser, proves minority teachers improve the classroom experience of minority students. Although the sample size for Hispanic teachers and principals was not large enough to study, Kaiser suggests the findings may be similar.

“We can’t draw a direct correlation,” says Kaiser, “but the feelings of support and encouragement could stem from conceived notions of shared beliefs, differences in how schools are managed, or unconscious discrimination.” Kaiser and Grissom are not, however, suggesting that schools contain a homogeneous faculty of one race, but rather that diversity is positive in a school environment.

“Our results illustrate that an important factor in maintaining the racial diversity of teachers is the diversity of the principals that supervise those teachers,” says Kaiser. “We hope these findings can provide justification for increasing the flow of minority teachers into the principal pipeline.”


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