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Assessed by a teacher like me: race, gender, and subjective evaluations

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The underrepresentation of minority teachers and male teachers remains an issue in US elementary education, and there is evidence that racial interactions partly shape student performance. However, there is little work on discrimination within the classroom. Do teachers give better grades to children of their own race, ethnicity, or gender? A US nationally representative longitudinal dataset that includes both test scores and teacher assessments offers a unique opportunity to answer this question. I look at the effect of being assessed by a samerace or same-gender teacher conditional on test scores, child effects, and teacher effects. This strategy controls for three confounding effects: (i) children of different races and genders may react differently in the classroom and during examinations, (ii) teachers may capture skills that are not captured by test scores, and (iii) tough teachers may be matched with specific races or genders. Results indicate that teachers give higher assessments to children of their own race, but not significantly higher assessments to children of their own gender. This effect seems to be driven largely by the differential assessments given to non-hispanic black and hispanic children: white teachers give significantly lower assessments to non-hispanic black children and to hispanic children. Results are robust to various checks on endogenous mobility, measurement error, and reverse causality. Moreover, children's behaviour is not a significant determinant of same-race or same-gender matching. Finally, relative grading does not explain the main results of this paper.

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