Segregation within integrated schools: Racially disproportionate student-teacher assignments in middle school


  • Tracey A. Benson University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Amber Bryant University of Michigan
  • Tuba Gezer University of North Carolina at Charlotte



academic achievement gap, racial segregation, disproportionality, teacher-student assignment


Racial segregation has been an ongoing issue in American education and one of the leading contributors to the racial achievement gap. Prior to the Brown v. Board decision of 1954, Black Americans were legally relegated to substandard schools and educational opportunities. Post-Brown, racial segregation continues to manifest as a result of de facto segregation and second-generation segregation. Moreover, the predominantly White teaching force – a negative consequence of desegregation – has been linked to poorer outcomes for Black and Latino students. Our study examines trends in racially disproportionate assignment of Black and Latino students to less experienced teachers than their White counterparts. Specifically, our analysis illustrates statistically significant trends in the assignment of less experienced teachers to Black and Latino students in middle school math over several years. This analysis contributes to the recent research phenomenon of measuring the cumulative pattern of racially disproportionate teacher-student assignments over time as a particularly effective means of understanding the effects of systematic and sustained inequalities on academic achievement. Across several grades and content areas of instruction, we found that the race of students was related to the teaching experience of their teachers. Our findings illustrate the negative impacts of racial segregation on students of color and supports the need for more intervention and administrative intentions regarding teacher-student assignments and racial equity in schools.


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Author Biographies

Tracey A. Benson, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Dr. Tracey A. Benson is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. He received his doctorate in Education Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Masters of School Administration from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He has served as a principal coach, high school principal, middle school vice-principal, district trainer, proficiency specialist, and elementary school teacher. His research explores the vestiges of structural racism in K-12 education that continue to impede the academic success of students of color. His book, Unconscious Bias in Schools: A Developmental Approach to Exploring Race and Racism, was released with Harvard Education Press in August 2019. Dr. Benson and his co-author Sarah Fiarman wrote this book as a roadmap for school and district leaders who seek to eliminate racial achievement gaps through rooting out and addressing racial bias in schools.

Amber Bryant, University of Michigan

Amber Bryant is a data project manager at ICPSR at University of Michigan. She specializes in statistical analysis (e.g., R, SPSS, Excel, Tableau), project management, and data visualization -- skills relevant for working with big data sets and on cross-functional teams.

Tuba Gezer, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Tuba Gezer is a Ph.D. candidate in educational research, measurement, and evaluation program at University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She specializes in English language learners and structural equation modeling.




How to Cite

Benson, T. A., Bryant, A., & Gezer, T. (2020). Segregation within integrated schools: Racially disproportionate student-teacher assignments in middle school. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 28, 170.