First grade: Nice is not enough

First-grade teachers are good at interacting with students but not so good at teaching, concludes a University of Virginia study. Nice is not enough.

Most American first-grade classrooms are pretty happy places to be. Children smile and enjoy working with one another and have positive interactions with their teachers, who recognize their students’ cues for help and offer timely responses.

However, only 23 percent of teachers earned a high quality rating by combining strong instruction with a positive social climate, conclude Robert Pianta and Megan Stuhlman.

Trained raters observed 820 first-grade classrooms in nearly 700 private and public schools in 32 states.

Twenty-eight percent of classrooms had teachers scoring just below the mean and were thus deemed “mediocre.” Seventeen percent of the classrooms were “low overall quality.”

The largest category in the sample, accounting for 31 percent of the classrooms, was labeled “positive emotional climate, low academic demand.”

Nice but undemanding teachers were unlikely to “give constructive feedback – for instance, not asking students to think a little bit harder about their questions, or by making basic facts more real to students in ways that would expand their understanding of those facts,” Stuhlman said.

Class size and teacher credentials didn’t correlate with classroom quality, the researchers found.

Via Core Knowledge.

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  1. I think it is shocking that you would use this survey’s categorization instrument – which is all it is – as some sort of evaluation.

    Do you even read the stuff you cite, or do you just instinctively zero in on the negative interpretation?

  2. Cardinal Fang says:

    The researchers had previously correlated the low academic demand classrooms with bad learning outcomes. Which is to say, the teachers who don’t give feedback, who don’t relate what they’re trying to teach to what the students already know, don’t teach their students much.

  3. lking4truth says:

    So if less kids raise their hand for a question during class….a teacher’s evaluation scores could “potentially” go up……interesting.