Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng, a sociologist at New York University, along with his colleague, Peter Halpin, has just published a paper examining student perceptions of their teachers, and their findings suggest that students of all races prefer teachers of color to white teachers.

Cherng and Halpin came to the conclusion after looking at data from the Measure of Effective Teaching study sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

They examined 1,700 sixth- through ninth-grade teachers from over 300 schools throughout the country, looking at a 30-question survey completed by their students that included such questions as “How much does this teacher challenge his students?” and “How captivating does she make the subject?”

In examining the survey, Cherng and Halpin found that, across the board, students had significantly higher perceptions of Latino teachers than white teachers. They also had significantly higher perceptions of black teachers than white teachers in at least two or three out of seven categories in the survey.

Cherng said that he found the results “surprising,” admitting, “I thought student awareness of the racial hierarchy would influence the results.”

Cherng went on to say that they would continue to look further into the results of their studies. “We’re not done,” he said.