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Center for Policy Research

Working Paper

Model Minorities in the Classroom? Positive Evaluation Bias towards Asian Students and its Consequences

Ying Shi and Maria Zhu

C.P.R. Working Paper No. 253

December 2022

Ying Shi headshot

Ying Shi

Maria Zhu

Maria Zhu


The fast-growing demographic group of Asian Americans is often perceived as a “model minority.” This paper establishes empirical evidence of this stereotype in the context of education and then analyzes its consequences. We show that teachers rate Asian students’ academic skills more favorably than observationally similar White students in the same class, even after accounting for test performance and behavior. This contrasts with teachers’ lower likelihood of favoring Black and Hispanic students. Notably, teachers respond to the presence of any Asian student in the classroom by exacerbating Black-White and Hispanic-White assessment gaps. This suggests that the “model minority” stereotype can negatively impact other minority groups de-spite its ostensibly positive connotation.

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