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Title Assessing and reducing teachers’ biases
Post date 12/10/2018
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale

Previous research suggests that bureaucrats discriminate against minority citizens meaning that they receive treatment based on their minority status rather than based on their needs. We expect that this happen because bureaucrats make decisions with limited information and therefore use ethnic or racial markers as a source to stereotypical information regarding traits of minority citizens. Studies that show how to mitigate discrimination are few. Building on the above-mentioned understanding of why discrimination occurs we expect that providing more information to bureaucrats will result in treatment more driven by needs rather than ethnic or racial markers.

Specifically we examine this question in a Danish school setting. As a measure of treatment in accordance with needs we use data from a digital reading tool, which allow teachers to decide what level of help, are appropriate for specific second grade students. We register whenever the teachers change the level of difficulty during the intervention period.

Prior to the study, we asked all teachers to evaluate the readings skills of all their students by stating an interval on a scale from clearly below average to clearly above average. Prior to the intervention and three times during the intervention we ask the teachers to do reading exercises with all students. The treatment consists of providing the teachers with information concerning their students’ reading abilities based on data from the reading exercise. We randomize the assignment to treatment at the school level (some schools participate with more than one teacher). We stratify the randomization based on the students’ reading abilities obtained from the reading exercise and the absolute gap between the teacher evaluation of the students and an evaluation based on the reading exercise. In total the teachers in the treatment group receive four reports with information concerning their students’ reading abilities.

C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

Our primary hypothesis is that the provision of information makes the teachers more likely to change the level of help for individual student in the direction of the gap between the teacher’s prior beliefs about the students skill level and skill level as assessed by the reading test (i.e. more help for students with lower reading skills than expected by the teacher prior to the intervention, and less help for students with better reading skills than expected) and that this effect is stronger the larger the gap.

Secondarily, we also expect the effect to be stronger for students where the teachers stated larger uncertainty beforehand (broader interval) and where several reports points in the same direction.

As secondary outcomes we also expect the treatment in general will reduce the gap between teacher beliefs and test results and that the treatment will improve the students’ reading skills.

We also expect the gap to be larger for minority background students (of non-western origin or decent) and that the treatment will reduce this gap in particular.

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *

More formally, our primary outcome variable, Y, is an indicator variable:

Y = 1 if teachers’ prior beliefs about a student are lower than test result and teachers reduce the level of help for the student
or teachers’ priors are higher and teachers increase the level of help
Y = 0 otherwise

We test our primary hypothesis by regressing the primary outcome on the interaction between the treatment variable indicator and the gap between teachers’ prior beliefs and the test score results:
Y=β_0+β_1 Treatment+β_2 Gap+ β_3 TreatmentXGap+ ϵ

C4 Country Denmark
C5 Scale (# of Units) 2324 students in 82 schools
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? Yes
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? No
C8 IRB Number not provided by authors
C9 Date of IRB Approval not provided by authors
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? Researchers in collaboration with company that administers the digital reading tool
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? No
C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published? not provided by authors
C13 JEL Classification(s) I20, J15