Harvard Educational Review
  1. Winter 2018 Issue »

    Racial (Mis)Match in Middle School Mathematics Classrooms

    Relational Interactions as a Racialized Mechanism

    Dan Battey, Luis A. Levya, Immanuel Williams, Victoria A. Belizario, Rachel Greco, and Roshni Shah

    While research has consistently shown the positive effects of having a teacher of the same race on various student outcomes, the literature has not examined how racial match affects the everyday interactions within classrooms. This research article by Dan Battey, Luis A. Leyva, Immanuel Williams, Victoria A. Belizario, Rachel Greco, and Roshni Shah addresses this underexplored area by documenting relational interactions in classrooms to find one mechanism that could be producing racialized effects on learning. Using a dataset from a study of twenty-five mathematics classrooms across predominantly white and black US middle schools, they examine the quality of relational interactions when teachers and students are racially matched and mismatched, as well as the effects on student achievement in mathematics. Their analysis shows how various dimensions of relational interactions significantly predict increases and decreases in achievement due to racial match.

    Click here to access this article.

    Dan Battey is an associate professor of mathematics education in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He was previously on the faculty at Arizona State University and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the Center for Teaching and Learning, Diversity in Mathematics Education. His work centers on engaging teachers in opportunities to learn within and from their practice in a way that sustains and generates change as well as challenges metanarratives that limit opportunities for African American and Latinx students in mathematics. He is currently working on understanding mathematics education as a racialized space through researching relational interactions in classrooms. Battey’s work has been published in Teachers College Record, Educational Studies in Mathematics, Curriculum Inquiry, Urban Education, and Journal for Research in Mathematics, among others.


    Luis A. Leyva is an assistant professor of mathematics education in the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. His research examines how members of historically marginalized populations construct their identities while navigating institutional and relational contexts of mathematics education as aspiring STEM majors and, in particular, aims to inform change in P–16 mathematics education for more socially affirming educational opportunities at intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and other social identities. Leyva’s work has been published in the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, and Journal of Mathematical Behavior.

    Immanuel Williams is a lecturer in the statistics department at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He was formerly a data analyst at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), where he worked on extracting, transforming, and loading data into databases as well as implementing data visualizations to ensure accuracy. His area of expertise is multilevel modeling, time series, and machine learning. Prior to his work at UTK, Williams was a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and at California State University, Monterey Bay.

    Victoria A. Belizario is a public information clerk at the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, where she presented her first research project at the 2016 Rutgers Aresty Research Symposium. Belizario copresented (with Dan Battey) “Racial (Mis)Match in Middle School Classrooms: Relational Interactions as a Racialized Mechanism” at the 2017 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference. She also conducted public health research with the Institute of Evidence-Based Practice and Nursing Research at Hackensack University Medical Center and presented her research at the Rutgers Edward J. Bloustein School in 2017.

    Rachel Greco is a student in the K–12 English Education Program at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education, which trains preservice teachers to be agents of social justice within urban classrooms. She is currently completing her student teaching in an eleventh-grade classroom. Greco has focused her studies on language and hopes to use her background in literature, linguistics, and Spanish in her teaching pedagogy.

    Roshni Shah is a graduate student pursuing her master’s in biomedical sciences at Rutgers University. She plans to attend dental school and specialize in pediatric dentistry.

  2. Share

    Winter 2018 Issue


    The Quandary of Youth Participatory Action Research in School Settings
    A Framework for Reflecting on the Factors That Influence Purpose and Process
    Gretchen Brion-Meisels and Zanny Alter

    Book Notes

    Uneasy Peace
    Patrick Sharkey

    When Grit Isn’t Enough
    Linda F. Nathan

    The Experience of Neoliberal Education
    edited by Bonnie Urciuoli

    The Newcomers
    Helen Thorpe