Importance of pupil-teacher relationships for pupil engagement and behaviour

In an article published in School Psychology, Mylien Duong and colleagues examine how important the pupil-teacher relationship is for pupil engagement and behaviour.

The study examines the effects of the Establish-Maintain-Restore (EMR) approach – a professional development programme for middle school teachers aimed at enhancing their skills in building relationships with pupils. In this randomised controlled trial, 20 teachers and 190 pupils from a US middle school (Years 7–9) in the Pacific Northwest region were assigned to either EMR or control conditions. Teachers in the EMR condition received three hours of training and ongoing implementation support. Control teachers were given the same amount of professional development time.

Observers rated academically engaged time and disruptive behaviour. Teachers reported on relationship quality using a modified version of the Student-Teacher Relationship Scale, which used only the five items deemed most relevant for EMR of the 28 items usually measured. The results showed that pupils of EMR-trained teachers had improved behaviour in the classroom (effect size = +1.07). EMR also resulted in improvements in pupil-teacher relationships (effect size = +0.61) and academically engaged time – instances when a pupil was paying attention to the teacher or working on a lesson task (effect size = +0.81).

While these findings are promising, it is important to note that the study included only teachers and pupils from one middle school, so replication with larger samples is needed before conclusions about effectiveness can be drawn.

Source: Brief teacher training improves student behavior and student-teacher relationships in middle school (March 2019), School Psychology, Vol 14, 2

Can school readiness tests predict future success in school?

A study published in School Psychology investigates the importance of screening children for their readiness for kindergarten (Year 1), and how effective this is at predicting outcomes in first grade (Year 2).

Nineteen kindergarten teachers and 350 children from six elementary schools in Missouri took part in the study. Teachers completed a kindergarten academic and behaviour readiness screener at the beginning of the academic year. Melissa Stormont and colleagues then compared pupil scores from the screening tool to their performance on a maths and reading achievement test, and to teacher ratings of their social and emotional skills 18 months later.

The results showed that children with poor academic readiness were more than 9 times more likely to have low reading scores at the end of their first-grade year. Similarly, children who rated poor in behaviour readiness were six times more likely to be rated as having displayed disruptive behaviour and poor social skills by their first-grade teachers. The authors suggest that the screening tool could be used to screen for children low in readiness in order to provide supports and monitoring for early intervention.

Source: Teacher-rated school readiness items in a kindergarten sample: Outcomes in first grade (August 2019), School Psychology