Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Development and Family Studies


Developmental Science


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Asha Spivak


In the U.S., ethnic and racial disparities in education persist throughout K-12 education. Empirical research has linked classroom ethnic/racial structures and achievement, and the learning environment and achievement. However, few studies have considered the complex manner in which ethnicity/race may interact with the learning environment and its relation to student success across diverse groups. The current study investigated the role that ethnic/racial congruence between the student, teacher, and classroom could have on the learning environment and mathematics achievement. A multilevel regression approach examined if these factors predicted academic achievement. Secondary data were from The National Center for Teacher Effectiveness, collected between 2010-2013. This study drew from a purposeful sample of 1,851 fourth-grade mathematics students from diverse groups. It relied on a combination of student, teacher, and classroom data collected through administrative records, questionnaires, and surveys. Results indicated that: 1) student perceived conflict with teacher, 2) teacher beliefs about their students’ math ability, 3) ethnic/racial congruency between a student and their classroom, and 4) ethnic/racial similarities between a teacher and their classroom significantly predicted better math test scores. However, ethnic/racial congruency between a student and their teacher was negatively related to math test scores. Additionally, when a student and their teacher were ethnically/racially congruent, there was more conflict and worse math achievement. These findings are aligned with prior work, highlighting that ethnic/racial classroom dynamics are related to the learning environment, and achievement.



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