There is research evidence that having a teacher of the same race/ethnicity can have positive impacts on a student’s attitudes, motivation, and achievement and that minority teachers may have more positive expectations for minority students’ achievement than nonminority teachers. New data from the National Center for Education Statistics show that the public school teaching workforce is becoming more diverse, but is still predominantly White.
The majority of public elementary and secondary school teachers were White in both 2003–04 and 2015–16. However, the percentage of teachers who were White was lower in 2015–16 than in 2003–04 (80 vs. 83 percent). While the percentage of teachers who were Black also fell slightly in that time, the percentages of teachers who were Hispanic, Asian, and of Two or more races were higher in 2015–16 than in 2003–04.
Figure 1. Percentage distribution of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by race/ethnicity: School years 2003–04 and 2015–16
# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Data are based on a head count of full-time and part-time teachers. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Although rounded numbers are shown, figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), “Public School Teacher Data File,” 2003–04; and National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Teacher Data File,” 2015–16. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 209.10.
The racial/ethnic diversity of teachers differed somewhat by school characteristics. For example, schools with more racial/ethnic diversity in their student populations also tended to have more racial/ethnic diversity among teachers. In 2015–16, the percentage of minority teachers was highest at schools that had 90 percent or more minority students (55 percent) and was lowest at schools with less than 10 percent minority students (2 percent). The opposite pattern was observed for White teachers, who accounted for 98 percent of teachers at schools with less than 10 percent minority students but made up only 45 percent of staff at schools with 90 percent or more minority students.
Figure 2. Percentage distribution of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by percentage of minority students in school and teacher minority status: School year 2015–16
NOTE: Excludes the 7 percent of teachers for whom the percentage of minority enrollment in the school was not available. Minority teachers include all racial/ethnic groups except for White. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Teacher Data File,” 2015–16. See Digest of Education Statistics 2017, table 209.23.
Are you interested in other differences in teacher characteristics by race/ethnicity? Then check out the in the report.
By Lauren Musu
 Egalite, A.J., and Kisida, B. (2018). The Effects of Teacher Match on Students’ Academic Perceptions and Attitudes. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 40(1): 59–81; Egalite, A.J., Kisida, B., and Winters, M.A. (2015). Representation in the Classroom: The Effect of Own-Race Teachers on Student Achievement. Economics of Education Review, 45, 44–52.
 Gershenson, S., Holt, S.B., and Papageorge, N.W. (2016). Who Believes in Me? The Effect of Student-Teacher Demographic Match on Teacher Expectations. Economics of Education Review, 52, 209–224.
 Minority teachers include all racial/ethnic groups except for White.