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Center for Policy Research

Policy Brief

Beyond the “Model Minority” Mirage: How Does Positive Bias Affect Asian Students and Other Students of Color?

Ying Shi and Maria Zhu

C.P.R. Policy Brief No. 5

July 2023

Ying Shi headshot

Ying Shi

Maria Zhu

Maria Zhu

Asian Americans are often perceived as a “model minority” in classrooms. While this stereotype seems positive, it may raise expectations for Asian students and bolster negative stereotypes for students in other minority groups due to teacher bias. This brief summarizes findings from a study that used data from the North Carolina Education Research Data Center (NCERDC) from 2007 to 2013 to identify the presence of positive bias in teachers’ assessments towards Asian American students in grades 3-8 and its effects on other minority groups. The authors find that teachers rate Asian students’ academic skills more favorably than similar White students in the same classroom with the same performance and behavior. In addition, the ‘‘model minority” stereotype negatively impacts other minority groups. Teachers respond to the presence of any Asian student in the classroom by widening Black-White and Hispanic-White assessment gaps. The authors conclude that teacher assessment patterns that set Asian students apart from other groups of minority students harm all students.

CPR Policy Briefs present concise summaries of findings from recent research conducted by CPR affiliates in the areas of crime and the law, economic wellbeing and poverty, education, energy and the environment, families, health, public finance, social welfare, urban and regional economics, and other policy-relevant domains.

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