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Names, Expectations and the Black-White Test Score Gap

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  • David N. Figlio

Abstract

This paper investigates the question of whether teachers treat children differentially on the basis of factors other than observed ability, and whether this differential treatment in turn translates into differences in student outcomes. I suggest that teachers may use a child's name as a signal of unobserved parental contributions to that child's education, and expect less from children with names that "sound" like they were given by uneducated parents. These names, empirically, are given most frequently by Blacks, but they are also given by White and Hispanic parents as well. I utilize a detailed dataset from a large Florida school district to directly test the hypothesis that teachers and school administrators expect less on average of children with names associated with low socio-economic status, and these diminished expectations in turn lead to reduced student cognitive performance. Comparing pairs of siblings, I find that teachers tend to treat children differently depending on their names, and that these same patterns apparently translate into large differences in test scores.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11195.

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Date of creation: Mar 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11195

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  1. David N. Figlio & Maurice E. Lucas, 2000. "Do High Grading Standards Affect Student Performance?," NBER Working Papers 7985, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Betts, Julian R. & Grogger, Jeff, 2003. "The impact of grading standards on student achievement, educational attainment, and entry-level earnings," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 343-352, August.
  3. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 767-805, August.
  4. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
  5. Lillard, Dean R. & DeCicca, Philip P., 2001. "Higher standards, more dropouts? Evidence within and across time," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 459-473, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2010. "Ugly Criminals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 15-30, February.
  2. Anne-Célia Disdier & Keith Head & Thierry Mayer, 2011. "Exposure to foreign media and changes in cultural traits: evidence from naming patterns in france," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/c8dmi8nm4pd, Sciences Po.
  3. Price, Gregory N., 2009. "Obesity and crime: Is there a relationship?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 149-152, June.
  4. repec:hal:cesptp:hal-00266554 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Head, Charles Keith & Mayer, Thierry, 2007. "Detection of Local Interactions from the Spatial Pattern of Names in France," CEPR Discussion Papers 6340, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Maresa Sprietsma, 2013. "Discrimination in grading: experimental evidence from primary school teachers," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 523-538, August.
  7. Lisa D. Cook & Trevon D. Logan & John M. Parman, 2013. "Distinctively Black Names in the American Past," NBER Working Papers 18802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Kwabena Gyimah-Brempong & Gregory N. Price, 2006. "Crime and Punishment: And Skin Hue Too?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 246-250, May.

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