Better Attendance, Fewer Suspensions, More Teachers of Color - Findings From Recent Research

July 5, 2022
Equity-Centered Practices
Relay Graduate School of Education

New Education Analytics study finds that students with a Relay-trained teacher are more likely to avoid suspensions, improve attendance, and learn from a teacher of color.

Through the myriad lessons we’ve learned about how to adapt the traditional school format in the ongoing pandemic, one lesson that has been particularly poignant is that getting students to school – whether that is virtually or returning in-person – is not something we can take for granted. Chronic absenteeism has soared during the past few years. And as we see communities of color continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,  we know that Black students are more likely to be exposed to systemic vulnerabilities. We must keep our students in school and take particular care of our diverse student bodies. 

New research from Education Analytics explores attendance, suspensions, and teacher diversity in a large urban school system. They find that students who have a teacher that was trained at Relay Graduate School of Education are likely to have better attendance and fewer suspensions, compared to students who learn with other teachers. This likelihood is greater for students of color. Moreover, the researchers found that Relay-trained teachers are more likely to be a person of color and/or a male, and students of color are less likely to be suspended and be absent from school when they have a Relay educator of color, as compared to other educators of color. This aligns with previous research that has found positive benefits when students of color learn from teachers of color. Let’s dig into these findings further:

Attendance Findings

Students who have Relay-trained teachers are more likely to have better attendance. This is particularly true for male students and students of color. The Education Analytics research discovered the following takeaways:

  • There is a 0.2 day reduction in absences per year among students who have at least one course that is taught by a Relay-prepared educator. 
  • Black students taught by Black Relay-trained teachers miss fewer days of school than students who had Black teachers trained in other teacher prep programs.
  • Non-White, Hispanic, and male students taught by Relay teachers have fewer absences as compared to students taught by non-Relay teachers. Students on free-and-reduced-price lunch were absent 0.26 and 0.29 fewer days, respectively, when taught by at least one Relay teacher.

Suspension Findings

Students taught by Relay teachers are less likely to be suspended; the effect is greatest for Black male students at the secondary school level.

  • For Black students who are taught by Black Relay-trained teachers, there was a 7- percentage point decrease in the likelihood of being suspended, whereas there was only a 2-percentage point decrease for Black non-Relay teachers. 
  • Prior research has indicated that, Black students who are taught by more Black teachers have fewer suspensions. EA researchers found that the effects are larger for Relay teachers. 

Teacher Diversity Findings

Relay-trained teachers are more likely to be a person of color and/or a male than teachers prepared through other programs. Moreover, Relay teachers are more likely to teach students of color and those with historically marginalized backgrounds.

  • The proportion of male teachers of color, including Black, Hispanic, and Asian teachers, is larger among Relay teachers than non-Relay teachers.
  • As Relay programs are more racially diverse, students from all racial groups have a greater opportunity to be taught by Black teachers when their teachers are Relay-trained.
  • In high school, English language arts teachers are more likely to be teachers of color if they were prepared at Relay compared to non-Relay teachers.

As we approach the 2022-23 school year, we know that the stakes are as high as ever for mitigating learning loss. While there are always extenuating circumstances, we want students to feel motivated to come to school, comfortable in their classrooms, and like they have the space to thrive in their educational experience. We want to stay the course on how we are addressing the ways we keep kids in school and attendance rates high, and how we’ve rethought school discipline to lower suspension rates. We also are proud that Relay is creating a pipeline of diverse educators – one that represents our national student body. We have long known that having a diverse teacher workforce can improve outcomes for students of color, and know that if we keep providing students with mentors and role models who look like they do in school, we can move forward in creating an equitable school system.

Relay Graduate School of Education

Relay Graduate School of Education is an accredited not-for-profit institution of higher education serving thousands of teachers and education leaders across the country. Our mission is to ensure that all students are taught by excellent educators, to build a more just world where every student has a clear path to a fulfilling life.


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