MILWAUKEE (SPECTRUM NEWS) -- Wisconsin has the largest racial achievement gap between black and white students in the United States, according to the latest national test score results.
A recent study by UW Milwaukee researchers suggests that the gap could be a reflection of the lack of minority teachers in the state.
Statistics show 86% of schools in the badger state don't have any African American teachers and 83% don't have Latinx educators.
"We know from that research that students benefit from having the same racial background teacher, and so this seemed to be one of the likely factors that promote the expansion of that achievement gap," said Curtis Jones, UWM Director of the Office of Socially Responsible Evaluation in Education.
The shortage of minority teachers in the state could be related to the low retention of those educators in Wisconsin public schools.
When it comes to new teachers, the study showed less than 52% of African-American teachers and 63% of Latinx teachers stay in the education field after two years, compared to 81% of white teachers.
The study highlights the lack of inclusivity and trust for their white counterparts, as a potential cause for the turnover.
"Whenever there was kind of a gap in the ethnic background of teachers in the school there seemed to be an associated trust gap as well," continued Jones.
An issue that affects student performance.
"The students in those schools are harmed because the teachers in that school are more likely to be new teachers and less effective because of that.
They're still great teachers, but overall they're newer and the students in those schools mostly students of color end up with less effective teaching again another factor that expands the achievement gap," added Jones.
The research calls on Wisconsin school districts to create better work environments for educators of color in the state.
An approach being practiced at Milwaukee College Prep in Milwaukee's north side, after re-evaluation of their campus, that led to restructuring to meet the needs of both educators and students. The charter school also created a pipeline program to allow more black teacher aids to overcome roadblocks and become certified educators.
Reginald Kirby, a history teacher at Milwaukee College Prep, recognizes the positive impact of working at a school that is moving in the direction of being more inclusive has for educators of color.
"One of our values here at Milwaukee College Prep is if we have an issue or concern with a person we go directly to the person and we share our concern with them. That was something that I hadn't experienced professionally which was totally different for me when I came here", said Kirby.
Providing minority educators the opportunity thrive by teaching students lessons in a way they can relate, and setting high unbiased academic standards believing all kids regardless of race have the same desire to learn.
"When we're talking about math or literature I always throw in their faces, Africans made that or black people created that so as quick as you might be able to those stereotypes that we have for black people to dribble a basketball or dance or sing is that same thing is inside of you when its time to do math. Those are still a part of your identity," added Kirby.
Igniting a movement that could potentially solve Wisconsin's racial achievement gap in the future.
"I always push them, I always tell them the story of the people where they come from, I always talk about what would their dreams for you to be and are you living those dreams? I constantly push them, a lot of times we are their family we are the ones that push them and I want them to know they can achieve anything so I'm not gonna stop pushing them," finished Kirby.
The study by UW-Milwaukee researchers also highlights the importance of providing persons of color opportunities to receive teacher training and preparation programs to increase diversity in school faculties throughout the state.