Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-x64cq Total loading time: 0.278 Render date: 2022-05-29T06:51:36.585Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }


Racial/Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Teachers’ Evaluations of Children’s Noncognitive Skills and Academic Ability

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 January 2020

Calvin Rashaud Zimmermann*
Department of Sociology, University of Notre Dame
Grace Kao
Department of Sociology, Yale University
*Corresponding author: Calvin Rashaud Zimmermann, Department of Sociology, University of Notre Dame, 4051 Jenkins Nanovic, Notre Dame, IN 46556. E-mail:


Research demonstrates the importance of noncognitive skills for educational achievement and attainment. Scholars argue that gender differences in noncognitive skills contribute to the gender gap in education. However, the intersection of student race/ethnicity and gender remains underexplored. Studies that examine how noncognitive skills affect gender or racial disparities in teachers’ perceptions of academic skills often assume that children’s noncognitive skills have the same benefit for all children. This is questionable given that research suggests that racial biases affect teachers’ perceptions of children’s noncognitive skills. Using national data, our paper examines how first-grade teachers’ ratings of approaches to learning affect their ratings of children’s academic skills. We also test if teachers’ ratings of children’s noncognitive skills have similar benefits across racial/ethnic and gender categories. We use two unidimensional approaches and an intersectional approach to gauge whether an intersectional approach gives us additional leverage that the unidimensional approaches obscure. The two unidimensional approaches reveal important results that suggest that children are differentially penalized by race/ethnicity or gender. Our race/ethnicity findings suggest that, in comparison to White children with identical noncognitive skills and test scores, teachers penalize Black children in math and advantage Asian children in literacy. Findings from our gender analyses suggest that teachers penalize girls in both math and literacy. Our intersectional findings indicate that an intersectional approach gives us additional leverage obscured by both unidimensional approaches. First, we find that Black girls and Black boys are differentially penalized in math. Secondly, for teachers’ ratings of literacy, our results suggest that teachers penalize Asian girls but not Asian boys in comparison to White boys. We discuss the implications of our study for understanding the complex relationship between noncognitive skills and social stratification.

State of the Art
Copyright © Hutchins Center for African and African American Research 2020 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Ainsworth-Darnell, James W., and Downey, Douglas B. (1998). Assessing the Oppositional Culture Explanation for Racial/Ethnic Differences in School Performance. American Sociological Review, 63(4): 536553. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bodovski, Katerina, and Youn, Min-Jong (2011). The Long Term Effects of Early Acquired Skills and Behaviors on Young Children’s Achievement in Literacy and Mathematics. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 9(1): 419. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buchmann, Claudia, and DiPrete, Thomas A. (2006). The Growing Female Advantage in College Completion: The Role of Family Background and Academic Achievement. American Sociological Review, 71(4): 515541. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buchmann, Claudia, DiPrete, Thomas A., and McDaniel, Anne (2008). Gender Inequalities in Education. Annual Review of Sociology, 34(1): 319337. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bulotsky-Shearer, Rebecca J., and Fantuzzo, John W. (2011). Preschool Behavior Problems in Classroom Learning Situations and Literacy Outcomes in Kindergarten and First Grade. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26(1): 6173. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Byun, Soo-yong, and Park, Hyunjoon (2012). The Academic Success of East Asian American Youth The Role of Shadow Education. Sociology of Education, 85(1): 4060. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Caldas, Stephen J., and Bankston, Carl (1997). Effect of School Population Socioeconomic Status on Individual Academic Achievement. The Journal of Educational Research, 90(5): 269277. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carter, Prudence L. (2005). Keepin’ It Real: School Success beyond Black and White. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Clarke, Averil Y., and McCall, Leslie (2013). Intersectionality and Social Explanation in Social Science Research. Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, 10(2): 349363. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Collins, Patricia Hill (2000). Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Crenshaw, Kimberle (1991). Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6): 12411299. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
DiPrete, Thomas A., and Buchmann, Claudia (2013). The Rise of Women: The Growing Gender Gap in Education and What It Means for American Schools. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
DiPrete, Thomas A., and Jennings, Jennifer L. (2012). Social and Behavioral Skills and the Gender Gap in Early Educational Achievement. Social Science Research, 41(1): 115.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Downey, Douglas B. (2008). Black/White Differences in School Performance: The Oppositional Culture Explanation. Annual Review of Sociology, 34(1): 107126. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Downey, Douglas B., and Ainsworth-Darnell, James W. (2002). The Search for Oppositional Culture among Black Students. American Sociological Review, 67(1): 156164. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Downey, Douglas B., and Pribesh, Shana (2004). When Race Matters: Teachers’ Evaluations of Students’ Classroom Behavior. Sociology of Education, 77(4): 267282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Early, Diane M., Iruka, Iheoma U., Ritchie, Sharon, Barbarin, Oscar A., Winn, Donna-Marie C., Crawford, Gisele M., Frome, Pamela M., Clifford, Richard M., Burchinal, Margaret, Howes, Carollee, Bryant, Donna M., and Pianta, Robert C. (2010). How Do Pre-Kindergarteners Spend Their Time?: Gender, Ethnicity, and Income as Predictors of Experiences in Pre-Kindergarten Classrooms. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25(2): 177193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Entwisle, Doris R., Alexander, Karl L., and Olson, Linda S. (2007). Early Schooling: The Handicap of Being Poor and Male. Sociology of Education, 80(2): 114138. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Entwisle, Doris R., Alexander, Karl L., and Olson, Linda Steffel (1994). The Gender Gap in Math: Its Possible Origins in Neighborhood Effects. American Sociological Review, 59(6): 822. < (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Farkas, George (2003). Cognitive Skills and Noncognitive Traits and Behaviors in Stratification Processes. Annual Review of Sociology, 29: 541562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferguson, Ann Arnett (2001). Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
Fryer, Roland G., and Levitt, Steven D. (2004). Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 86(2): 447464. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goldsmith, Pat António (2003). All Segregation Is Not Equal: The Impact of Latino and Black School Composition. Sociological Perspectives, 46(1): 83105. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gunderson, Elizabeth A., Ramirez, Gerardo, Levine, Susan C., and Beilock, Sian L. (2012). The Role of Parents and Teachers in the Development of Gender-Related Math Attitudes. Sex Roles, 66(3–4): 153166. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harris, Angel L. (2006). “I (Don’t) Hate School”: Revisiting Oppositional Culture Theory of Blacks’ Resistance to Schooling. Social Forces, 85(2): 797834. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hsin, Amy, and Xie, Yu (2014). Explaining Asian Americans’ Academic Advantage over Whites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23): 84168421. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Irizarry, Yasmiyn (2015a). Selling Students Short: Racial Differences in Teachers’ Evaluations of High, Average, and Low Performing Students. Social Science Research, 52(July): 522538. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Irizarry, Yasmiyn (2015b). Utilizing Multidimensional Measures of Race in Education Research The Case of Teacher Perceptions. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 1(4): 564583. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Jussim, Lee, and Harber, Kent D. (2005). Teacher Expectations and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Knowns and Unknowns, Resolved and Unresolved Controversies. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 9(2): 131155. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kao, Grace (1995). Asian Americans as Model Minorities?: A Look at Their Academic Performance. American Journal of Education, 103(2): 121159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kao, Grace, and Thompson, Jennifer S. (2003). Racial and Ethnic Stratification in Educational Achievement and Attainment. Annual Review of Sociology, 29(December): 417442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kao, Grace, Vaquera, Elizabeth, and Goyette, Kimberly (2013). Education and Immigration. 1st Edition. Malden, MA: Polity.Google Scholar
Lewis, Oscar (1966). The Culture of Poverty. Scientific American, 215(4): 1925.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
McGrady, Patrick B., and Reynolds, John R. (2013). Racial Mismatch in the Classroom Beyond Black-White Differences. Sociology of Education, 86(1): 317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McKown, Clark, and Weinstein, Rhona S. (2008). Teacher Expectations, Classroom Context, and the Achievement Gap. Journal of School Psychology, 46(3): 235261. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Morris, Edward W. (2005). “Tuck in That Shirt! ” Race, Class, Gender, and Discipline in an Urban School. Sociological Perspectives, 48(1): 2548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
NICHD Early Child Care Research Network (2007). Age of Entry to Kindergarten and Children’s Academic Achievement and Socioemotional Development. Early Education and Development, 18(2): 337368. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRef+(accessed+December+11,+2019).>Google Scholar
Ogbu, John U. (1991). Immigrant and Involuntary Minorities in Comparative Perspective. In Gibson, Margaret A. and Ogbu, John U. (Eds.), Minority Status and Schooling: A Comparative Study of Immigrants and Involuntary Minorities, pp. 336. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.Google Scholar
Ready, Douglas D., and Wright, David L. (2011). Accuracy and Inaccuracy in Teachers’ Perceptions of Young Children’s Cognitive Abilities: The Role of Child Background and Classroom Context. American Educational Research Journal, 48(2): 335360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ready, Douglas D., LoGerfo, Laura F., Burkam, David T., and Lee, Valerie E. (2005). Explaining Girls’ Advantage in Kindergarten Literacy Learning: Do Classroom Behaviors Make a Difference? The Elementary School Journal, 106(1): 2138. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reardon, Sean F., and Galindo, Claudia (2009). The Hispanic-White Achievement Gap in Math and Reading in the Elementary Grades. American Educational Research Journal, 46(3): 853891. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rice, Jennifer King (2010). The Impact of Teacher Experience: Examining the Evidence and Policy Implications. Brief 11, August. National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER): Urban Institute. <> (accessed December 12, 2019).+(accessed+December+12,+2019).>Google Scholar
Riegle-Crumb, Catherine, and Humphries, Melissa (2012). Exploring Bias in Math Teachers’ Perceptions of Students’ Ability by Gender and Race/Ethnicity. Gender & Society, 26(2): 290322. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Robinson-Cimpian, Joseph P., Lubienski, Sarah Theule, Ganley, Colleen M., and Copur-Gencturk, Yasemin (2014). Teachers’ Perceptions of Students’ Mathematics Proficiency May Exacerbate Early Gender Gaps in Achievement. Developmental Psychology, 50(4): 1262. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rosenbloom, Susan Rakosi, and Way, Niobe (2004). Experiences of Discrimination among African American, Asian American, and Latino Adolescents in an Urban High School. Youth & Society, 35(4): 420451. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Royston, Patrick, and White, Ian R. (2011). Multiple Imputation by Chained Equations (MICE): Implementation in Stata. Journal of Statistical Software, 45(4): 120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rudd, Tom (2014). Racial Disproportionality in School Discipline: Implicit Bias Is Heavily Implicated. Kirwan Institute Brief. Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, The Ohio State University.Google Scholar
Schneider, Barbara, and Lee, Yongsook (1990). A Model for Academic Success: The School and Home Environment of East Asian Students. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 21(4): 358377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sirin, Selcuk R. (2005). Socioeconomic Status and Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analytic Review of Research. Review of Educational Research, 75(3): 417453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sonnenschein, Susan, and Galindo, Claudia (2015). Race/Ethnicity and Early Mathematics Skills: Relations Between Home, Classroom, and Mathematics Achievement. The Journal of Educational Research, 108(4): 261277. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tyson, Karolyn (2011). Integration Interrupted: Tracking, Black Students, and Acting White after Brown. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Valdes, Guadalupe (1996). Con Respeto: Bridging the Distances Between Culturally Diverse Families and Schools, An Ethnographic Portrait. 10.6.1996 edition. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
Voyer, Daniel, and Voyer, Susan D. (2014). Gender Differences in Scholastic Achievement: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 140(4): 1174. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Warikoo, Natasha, and Carter, Prudence (2009). Cultural Explanations for Racial and Ethnic Stratification in Academic Achievement: A Call for a New and Improved Theory. Review of Educational Research, 9(1): 366394. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Watts, Tyler W., Duncan, Greg J., Siegler, Robert S., and Davis-Kean, Pamela E. (2014). What’s Past Is Prologue: Relations Between Early Mathematics Knowledge and High School Achievement. Educational Researcher, 43(7): 352360. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wilson, William Julius (2009). The Moynihan Report and Research on the Black Community. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 621(1): 3446. <> (accessed December 11, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Yates, Tuppett M., and Marcelo, Ana K. (2014). Through Race-Colored Glasses: Preschoolers’ Pretend Play and Teachers’ Ratings of Preschooler Adjustment. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(1): 111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *