Thursday, February 23, 2017

The 'Trust Gap' in Schools ... And How Teachers Can Help Close It

The 'Trust Gap' in Schools ... And How Teachers Can Help Close It:

The ‘Trust Gap’ in Schools … And How Teachers Can Help Close It

trust gap students teachers

If students of color don’t believe that school officials treat them fairly, a “trust gap” emerges that could impact college enrollment, even if they receive good grades, according to a new study.
What causes the “trust gap”? Extreme disparities in discipline and low expectations from teachers. Many students, particularly Black and Hispanic youths, develop a growing mistrust for authority once they perceive and experience these biases, says David Yeager, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author of the new report, published in the journal Child Development.
“When students have lost trust, they may be deprived of the benefits of engaging with an institution, such as positive relationships and access to resources and opportunities for advancement,” explains Yeager.
In an eight-year study, Yeager and his colleagues conducted twice-yearly surveys with white and African American students in the northeast and white and Hispanic students in rural Colorado, tracking them from middle school through the end of high school. The survey measured students’ trust level by their responses to statements such as ” I am treated fairly by my teachers and other adults at my school” and “If a black or a white [school name] student is alone in the hallway during class time, which one would a teacher ask for a hall pass?”
The researchers found that trust decreased for all students during seventh grade – a time when a student is most likely to first detect unjust policies – but the declines were much faster for Black and Latino students. Furthermore, these students were more likely to be cited for behavior infractions the following year, even if they had never been in trouble before and received good grades. School records revealed that the racial disparity reported by many students did in fact exist.
“Perceived bias and mistrust reinforce each other. And like a stone rolling down a hill that triggers an avalanche, the loss of trust could accumulate behavioral consequences over time” – David Yeager, University of Texas at Austin
African American students who lost trust in seventh grade were also less likely to make it to a four-year college six years later.
The perception that a wide racial gap exists in school disciplinary actions is grounded in a growing body of evidence. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection, Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than are White students.


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