The Effects of Higher Teacher Expectations on Academic Achievement for Elementary Students, Especially Traditionally Low-Achieving Students
This essay examines current and past research on the effects of teacher expectations on academic achievement, with a focus on research dealing with urban elementary schools. The essay concludes that while much of the research is controversial, teachers' expectations can have a limited effect on certain groups of students' academic achievement. This occurs when teachers' expectations influence teacher behavior toward the learner, the learning context, the curriculum, and assessment measures, in turn influencing student achievement levels. Teachers' expectations have the most effect on traditionally low-achieving students, suggesting that by changing expectations for and behavior toward those students, teachers can greatly influence academic achievement. To do this, teachers should work to view the learner as a person capable of achievement. Teachers should create a learning context where all students know the teacher expects them to succeed. Teachers can create this environment through the equitable distribution of behaviors that transmit high expectations. The Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement program focuses on several of these behaviors, including wait time and specific praise. If teachers really expect all students to succeed, they will also provide all students with access to the curriculum, making sure that ability grouping is flexible and designed to allow students access to the curriculum at their current level of understanding rather than deny such access altogether. Finally, to create high expectations, assessments should allow for students to demonstrate understanding rather than simply regurgitate facts.