Date of Award

Spring 6-22-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Lynette H. Bikos, Ph.D., ABPP

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Jacob Bentley, Ph.D., ABPP

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Jordan Shannon, Ph.D


This study’s purpose was to investigate school-level behavioral outcomes in relation to the proportion of Black teachers and students in U.S. schools. Negative school outcome and academic achievement gaps are well-documented. However, many of these studies utilized small, localized populations; my research used national data and focused on the problem behaviors in school. Drawing from Critical Race Theory, I hypothesized that a greater proportion of Black teachers would reduce school student problems and negative behaviors (e.g., student verbal abuse of teachers, widespread disorder in classrooms). After receiving a restricted-use license, I utilized data from 25,818 schools from the National Teacher and Principal Surveys and the Civil Rights Data Collection from the U.S. Department of Education. The dependent variables were created using principal components analysis of Likert-ratings from principals and teachers. From the principal’s evaluations of “School Climate and Safety,” two subscales (criminal acts, interpersonal problems) emerged accounted for 42% of the variance. From the teacher’s assessment of “School Climate and Teacher Attitudes,” a unidimensional scale accounted for 48% of the variance. Subsequently, I conducted three hierarchical linear regressions to model school-level criminal acts, interpersonal problems, and classroom behaviors, separately. Funding, percent of Black students and teachers, and school level accounted for 37% of variance in criminal acts, 7% of variance in interpersonal problems, 19% of variance in classroom behaviors. Regression weights for percent of Black students and percent of Black teachers were significant across all hierarchical linear regressions however their regression weights were quite low. Significant three-way interactions helped clarify the results. Particularly for middle and high schools, when the proportion of Black students is higher, Black teachers can be a protective factor against in-school criminal acts (B < 0.001, p < 0.001). This same pattern was observed for interpersonal problems in high schools (B < 0.001, p < 0.001) and problematic classroom behaviors in middle (B < 0.001, p = 0.022) and high schools (B < 0.001, p < 0.001). I recommend that policy makers and schools put real effort towards hiring and retaining Black teachers to help close the achievement and disciplinary gaps between White and Black students.

Keywords: Black teachers, Black students, White teachers, Critical Race Theory, in-school criminal acts, interpersonal problems, problematic classroom behaviors, policy