Discrimination in teacher assessments or network effects? Understanding the mechanisms behind ethnic and gender differences in school achievement

NKFIH FK137765

Principal Investigator: Dorottya Kisfalusi


In Hungary and many other countries, a considerable ethnic and gender gap is observed in school achievement. Standardized blind tests show that whereas children of some ethnic minority groups perform similarly well in the school as ethnic majority children, other minority youth lag behind considerably. Even after controlling for standardized blind test scores, studies spanning various countries found evidence for ethnic differences in non-blind teacher assessments. Gender differences are less pronounced in standardized tests, but conditional on blind test scores, girls were found to receive better non-blind assessments than boys.


In this project, we concentrate on two potential explanations that might contribute to the ethnic and gender differences in students’ school grades conditional on standardized blind test scores: discrimination in teacher assessments and network mechanisms influencing students’ academic achievement. Our project brings together these two research lines and disentangles the underlying mechanisms behind differences in academic achievement. Analysing existing observational data of two large-scale panel datasets collected among minority and majority adolescents in Hungary and in four other European countries as well as conducting new experiments and a survey among both students and teachers in Hungary, we concentrate on the following two research goals: 1. We investigate whether certain groups of students are discriminated against in teacher evaluations and identify the potential underlying mechanisms; 2. We identify how social interactions between students contribute to ethnic and gender differences in school achievement through network mechanisms.



Flóra Samu

Károly Takács

Eszter Vit