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Research on Racial Disparities in Education by Professors Drake, Shi and Zhu Cited in NY Times

November 1, 2022

The New York Times

Sean J. Drake

Sean J. Drake


Ying Shi

Ying Shi


Maria Zhu

Maria Zhu


Affirmative action is on trial again with the plaintiffs in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College alleging that race-conscious college admission practices hurt Asian Americans. But research has shown that while Asian Americans face bias in education, it's not in the direction the plaintiffs claim and may actually give Asian Americans a boost based on assumptions about race. 

Sean Drake, assistant professor of sociology, drew on two years of research for his book, "Academic Apartheid: Race and the Criminalization of Failure in an American Suburb" (University of California Press, 2022), and found positive bias toward Asian American students. “I don’t necessarily look at my classroom and treat a kid differently because they are Asian, but I know that if I have an Asian student in my classroom, I can count on that student," one teacher told him.

Ying Shi, assistant professor of public administration and international affairs, and Maria Zhu, assistant professor of economics, looked at the standardized test scores of public school students in North Carolina and compared them to teachers’ judgments of the same students. They found persistent Asian-white disparities in teacher ratings. Teachers are significantly more likely to rate Asian students’ skills higher relative to their standardized test scores compared to similarly performing white peers in the same class, even after adjusting for sociodemographic and behavioral measures.

Read more in the New York Times article, "Asian American Students Face Bias, but It’s Not What You Might Think."


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