Building Teachers’ Race-Related Competencies to Promote Youth Ethnic-Racial Identity and Reduce Academic Inequalities

How might teachers’ abilities to promote adolescents’ ethnic-racial identity development be increased to ultimately reduce academic disparities?

A growing body of evidence suggests that promoting adolescents’ ethnic-racial identity development could significantly improve academic outcomes for Black and Latinx minority youth. An earlier study by Umaña-Taylor and colleagues suggests the Identity Project—an intervention delivered by researchers that fosters ethnic-racial identity development by providing adolescents with tools, strategies, and a supported space during the school day to explore their ethnic-racial background and learn about their peers’ backgrounds—has promise to do this. In order to realize the potential of the intervention at a larger scale, however, teachers must be trained to deliver it. Given variability in teachers’ ability to discuss issues of ethnicity and race with students, Umaña-Taylor and colleagues propose to build and adapt a training program in partnership with teachers to prepare them to effectively deliver the intervention to students, engage in self-reflection regarding their own ethnic-racial identity, and use strengths-based pedagogical strategies for discussing issues of race and ethnicity in the classroom. The team will conduct in-depth interviews to identify the best pedagogical strategies for discussing race and ethnicity in classrooms and to design changes to the intervention. They will then adapt the training program and conduct focus groups with participating teachers to make additional refinements and ready the intervention for rigorous evaluation.

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