Teacher Expectations Make a Difference for Students, Study Finds

November 14, 2014

A study released last month shows that higher expectations of teachers correlate to later academic success of students.

The longitudinal study, “The Power of the Pygmalion Effect: Teacher Expectations Strongly Predict College Completion,” from the Center for American Progress demonstrated that with everything else equal, high school sophomores whose teachers reported high expectations were three times as likely to graduate from college as their peers whose teachers reported lower expectations. Researchers analyzed the National Center for Education Statistics’ Education Longitudinal Study, which tracked students from 2002 to 2012.

They found that teachers’ expectations were “tremendously predictive” of students’ college-going rates. After controlling for student demographics, teacher expectations were more predictive of college success than many major factors, including student motivation and student effort.

Among the more troubling findings, secondary teachers viewed high-poverty students as 53 percent less likely to graduate from college than their classmates from wealthier backgrounds. African-American and Hispanic students were also deemed 47 and 42 percent less likely to graduate than white students, respectively. The researchers did note that this does not equal causation; teachers may be making accurate predictions based on students’ previous performance.

What do you think of the study? How do you communicate higher expectations to your students? We would love to hear your thoughts on social media. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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