Discrimination in Schools

Article published: 27.07.2020

Even though social class is at least as predictive of educational achievement as ethnicity in virtually all developed countries, experimental research on discrimination in education has overwhelmingly focused on the latter. This study investigates both ethnic discrimination and social class discrimination by elementary school teachers in Germany. Randomly sampled elementary school teachers who teach immigrants to evaluate an essay written by a fourth-grader have been asked. Results show no evidence for discrimination in grading. However, findings for teachers’ expectations of children’s future performance suggest a discriminatory bias along the lines of both ethnicity and social class. …

… The effect is conditional on essay quality—it only holds true for the better essay. Findings provide evidence for models that highlight situational moderators such as the richness of information and ambiguity—e.g., statistical discrimination—but as evidence against simpler models of ingroup-favoritism or outgroup derogation, e.g., social identity theory or taste discrimination.

Paper by Sebastian E. Wenz  & Kerstin Hoenig, published in “Research in Social Stratification and Mobility” 2020 online first & ungated. Read full paper here.

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