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. 2006 Sep;76(Pt 3):429-44.
doi: 10.1348/000709905X53589.

Expecting the Best for Students: Teacher Expectations and Academic Outcomes


Expecting the Best for Students: Teacher Expectations and Academic Outcomes

Christine Rubie-Davies et al. Br J Educ Psychol. .


Background: Research into teacher expectations has shown that these have an effect on student achievement. Some researchers have explored the impact of various student characteristics on teachers' expectations. One attribute of interest is ethnicity.

Aims: This study aimed to explore differences in teachers' expectations and judgments of student reading performance for Maori, Pacific Island, Asian and New Zealand European students. A further objective was to compare teacher expectations and judgments with actual student achievement.

Sample: The participants were 540 students of 21 primary teachers in Auckland schools. Of these students, 261 were New Zealand European, 88 were Maori, 97 were Pacific Island and 94 were Asian.

Methods: At the beginning of the year, the teachers completed a survey related to their expectations for their students' achievement in reading and, at the end of the year, they judged the reading levels their students had actually achieved. The survey data were compared with running record data.

Results: Teachers' expectations for students in reading were significantly higher than actual achievement for all ethnic groups other than Maori. Maori students' achievement was similar to that of the other groups at the beginning of the year but, by the end of the year, they had made the least gains of all groups.

Conclusions: Sustaining expectation effects are one explanation for Maori students' limited progress. For Pacific Island, Asian and New Zealand European students, positive self-fulfilling prophecies may be operating. Future research could investigate the learning opportunities provided to these ethnic groups and the relationship of these to teachers' expectations.

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