Teacher Expectations Essay

Teacher Expectations Essay

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The intervening years since court-mandated desegregation of schools have not eradicated the existence of achievement disparities for ethnic children, especially for Latin American and African American students (McKown & Weinstein, 2008). In fact, there is an extensive body of research that suggests that students from minorities do not perform well in the current American public school system (Tyler, Boykin, & Walton, 2006). McKown and Weinstein (2008) note that one often cited contributor to the achievement gap is teacher expectations.
The use of the term teacher expectations has been a source of consternation and anger for some educators because of its connection to the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy (Jussim & Harber, 2005). These prophecies are “erroneous teacher expectations [that] may lead students to perform at levels consistent with those expectations (Brophy & Good, 1974; Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968)” (Jussim & Harber, 2005, p. 131).
Jussim and Harber (2005) detail the controversy that has gone on for more than 40 years over self-fulfilling prophecy. They asserted that, in general, educational psychologists have tended to stress the limited efficacy of teacher expectations to influence students; while, social psychologists have taken the opposite position which asserts both the “substantial power and pervasiveness of self-fulfilling prophecies” (p. 138). Two of their major conclusions in this regard (a) Self-fulfilling prophecies do exist, and (b) their affects are typically small (Jussim & Harber, 2005).
This would seem to be a tidy conclusion to a prolonged controversy; the answers, however, are not so simple or straightforward. There are other issues that complicate matters and must be considered whe...


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McKown, C., & Weinstein, R. S. (2008). Teacher expectations, classroom context, and the achievement gap. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 235-261. Retrieved from http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-school-psychology/

Thomas, J., & Stockton, C. (2003). Socioeconomic status, race, gender, & retention: Impact on student achievement. Essays in Education, 7. Retrieved from http://www.usca.edu/essays/archives.html

Tyler, K. M., Boykin, A. W., & Walton, T. R. (2006). Cultural considerations in teachers’ perceptions of student classroom behavior and achievement. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22, 998-1005. Retrieved from www.elsevier.com/locate/tate

Zehavi, N., Bouhadan, R., & Bruckheimer, M. (1987). A model of relating teacher expectations and student difficulties. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 13, 185-192. doi: 10.1016/50191-491X(87)80032-9

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