Ready, Douglas D., & Wright, David L.
Accuracy and Inaccuracy in Teachers' Perceptions of Young Children's Cognitive Abilities: The Role of Child Background and Classroom Context
1. Are teachers more or less accurate in predicting the cognitive skills of students with particular sociodemographic backgrounds? One would expect a certain amount of inaccuracy in teacher perceptions of their students' skills. But is this error in teacher estimates randomly distributed, or is it systematically related to children's socio-demographic characteristics?
2. To what extent do teacher characteristics and classroom and school contexts explain teacher perceptual accuracy? For example, are experienced teachers’ better judges of their students' skills? Are teacher perceptions more accurate in racially, socioeconomically, or academically homogeneous classrooms? In smaller versus larger classrooms? In public versus private schools?
3. How is teacher accuracy influenced by the interplay between student and teacher or classroom characteristics? For instance, are teachers more accurate in estimating the skills of students with whom they share a racial-ethnic back ground? Are teacher assessments of low-SES children less biased in smaller classrooms?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
American Educational Research Journal
Vol. 48 No.2 pp. 335-360
The authors find that teachers perceive substantial racial-ethnic, socioeconomic, and gender differences in children's literacy skill.
The authors find that teachers in lower-socioeconomic-status schools and lower-achieving schools more often underestimate their students' abilities. These results highlight the importance of recent policy efforts to avoid isolating traditionally disadvantaged children.
Teacher inaccuracy is rooted far more in the social and academic characteristics of classrooms than in the attributes of teachers themselves. On average in both the fall and spring, teachers in higher-achieving and higher-SES classrooms overestimate their children's literacy abilities. Teachers tend to underestimate students' skills in lower achieving and socioeconomically disadvantaged classroom.
Teachers tend to underestimate the literacy skills of Black children at the start of kindergarten and of boys and lower-SES children throughout kindergarten.
Classroom academic and socioeconomic composition strongly influence teacher perceptual accuracy.
Black children in lower-SES classrooms-particularly, lower-SES, lower-achieving classrooms-are more likely to be viewed by their teachers as possessing fewer literacy skills than they actually do.
Child SES is more strongly associated with teacher perceptual inaccuracy in lower-SES classrooms. Moreover, these negative effects of lower-SES classrooms on teacher perceptual accuracy are amplified for Black (compared to White) children in the fall, even after controlling for other child and classroom characteristics.
Child SES influences teacher perceptions less in high-SES and high-ability class rooms, but child SES matters more to teacher perceptions in low-SES and lower-ability classrooms.
Their results suggest that teachers perceive substantial differences in literacy ability across student socio-demographic subgroups.
In the fall, teachers typically perceive that their students are more alike academically than they actually are. By the spring, however, teachers increasingly recognize that although their students may be socio- demographically similar, they are quite different academically.
In terms of social class disparities, children given poor literacy ratings by their teachers were typically socioeconomically disadvantaged in comparison to those receiving average rating.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, Achievement Gap, Gender, Minorities, Race, Racial Composition, School Characteristics, Teacher Quality, Teachers
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
Classroom, School, Student
This study employs data from the ECLS-K (base year 1998).
Primary sampling units were geographic areas consisting of counties or groups of counties from which about 1,000 public and private schools offering kindergarten programs were selected.
A target sample of 24 children were then selected from each school
Their final analytic sample includes a diverse group of 9,493 children within 1,822 classrooms, which are nested within 701 public and private schools.
DV: Teacher ratings of children’s’ language and literature skills collected in the fall and spring, literacy assessment,
IV: Child characteristics, this includes; race age in months, gender, single parent status, primary home language, number of siblings, full day or part day student, and whether the child was repeating kindergarten.