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Experimental Evidence on Teachers' Racial Bias in Student Evaluation: The Role of Grading Scales

A vast research literature documents racial bias in teachers’ evaluations of students.  Theory suggests bias may be larger on grading scales with vague or overly-general criteria versus scales with clearly-specified criteria, raising the possibility that well-designed grading policies may mitigate bias.  This study offers relevant evidence through a randomized web-based experiment with 1,549 teachers.  On a vague grade-level evaluation scale, teachers rated a student writing sample lower when it was randomly signaled to have a Black author, versus a White author.  However, there was no evidence of racial bias when teachers used a rubric with more clearly-defined evaluation criteria.  Contrary to expectation, I found no evidence that the magnitude of grading bias depends on teachers’ implicit or explicit racial attitudes.               

Keywords
teacher bias; racial bias; implicit bias; grading rubric; randomized experiment
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
10.26300/zfnx-k252

This EdWorkingPaper is published in:

Quinn, D. M. (2020). Experimental Evidence on Teachers' Racial Bias in Student Evaluation: The Role of Grading Scales. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. https://doi.org/10.3102/0162373720932188

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Quinn, David M.. (). Experimental Evidence on Teachers' Racial Bias in Student Evaluation: The Role of Grading Scales. (EdWorkingPaper: -241). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/zfnx-k252

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