School personnel-student racial congruence and the achievement gap


Purpose: This paper aims to examine the relationship between student achievement and racial congruence of school personnel and students to help educators and policy makers narrow the achievement gap.

Design/methodology/approach: This quasi-experimental, correlational study used publicly available data from 158 elementary schools in the Houston Independent School District. The authors analyzed the level of congruence of school personnel and students in relation to reading, math and science scores with the fifth-grade students.

Findings: Controlling for the percentage of economically disadvantaged students, separate univariate ANCOVAs on the outcome variables revealed significant effects of racial congruence levels on reading scores, F(2, 153) = 3.73, p = 0.026 and math scores, F(2, 153) = 3.977, p = 0.02.

Research limitations/implications: The operationalization of racial congruence had not been previously used. African-Americans and Hispanics were labeled as non-white, Asian-Americans (who do not show the achievement gap) were grouped with white students, and other minority groups were excluded. The study was a natural experiment without randomization or intervention.

Practical implications: Findings can be used to narrow the achievement gap by encouraging recruitment of Hispanics and African-Americans educators and influencing administrators as they decide where to place hired personnel.

Originality/Value: Using a much larger sample size than previous studies, this study found a factor to narrow the achievement gap.


Counseling, Leadership and Special Education

Document Type





Achievement gap, Education, Learning, Race, Racial congruence, Student achievement

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal for Multicultural Education