'Teacher discrimination in occupational expectations and grading', by Shradha Parashari,

Shradha Parashari is one of the ISS MA Research Paper Award winners for the academic year 2017-2018.

From by the Evaluation Committee consisting of Albert Kraaij, HHS, Farhad Mukhtarov, ISS and Katarzyna Grabska, ISS:

“The paper is based on primary data collected in Delhi, India. It examines the existence and extent of discrimination in grading and expectations that teachers have of children who are from different castes (low and high) and different classes. … Shradha developed an original experiment and collected an impressive amount of data. The focus on the occupational dimension in grading bias is novel as shown in the comprehensive literature review. The committee was impressed by the scope, the idea and the way it was implemented, all that shows the greatest possible commitment on the part of the student as well as much enterprise and courage. We would like to especially stress courage and enterprise in managing such a study as well as the importance of the topic and the clearly publishable results.”

ISS Working Paper No. 640

This paper studies the extent of teacher’s discrimination in occupational expectations and analyses whether discrimination in occupational expectations would further perpetuate discrimination in grading on the basis of student’s caste and socio-economic status. The paper adopts an experimental approach and draws on data generated from 122 teachers from 19 schools in Delhi, India. Student’s caste and socio-economic status were randomly assigned to a set of essays written by students such that the assigned characteristics were not related to essay quality. The results show that teachers’ expect students belonging to low caste and low socio-economic status will be less likely to realize their occupational ambitions relative to students belonging to high caste and high socio-economic status. Consistent with this bias in expectations there is also a bias in grading which shows that low expectations of a teacher perpetuates discrimination in grades awarded. Essays assigned low caste and low socio-economic status characteristics are graded 3.64 points lower relative to essays assigned to high caste and high socio-economic status. Given the ultra-competitive nature of schooling in India and the importance of grades in determining access to higher education in India, a 3.64 point disadvantage is substantial. The estimates also show that there is a trade-off between caste and socio-economic status. Belonging to a high socio-economic status lowers the extent of discrimination faced by low caste students.


Teacher discrimination, grading, occupational expectations, caste, socioeconomic status, Delhi, India.

Download the full text of this working paper (pdf)




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