Teacher Expectations and Performance

Numerous studies have indicated that teachers have expectations regarding how well their students will perform in school. In some cases, these expectations are based on reliable criteria, such as past academic performance or classroom behavior (Dusek & Joseph, 1983, p. 341). However, in many other cases, the expectations are based simply on appearances. Specifically, race and socioeconomic class are often used as the criteria for forming teacher expectations. Many teachers expect white children from upper and middle class homes to do well in their academic studies. By contrast, it is assumed that African-American or Latino children from lower class homes will do poorly in their school work. Such expectations have a subtle effect on the teacher's behavior within the classroom. As a result of this behavior, the expectations of the teacher are communicated to the students. In most cases, the students react to this communication by performing in the manner that the teacher expects of them. This process is referred to as being a "self-fulfilling prophecy" in education (Chunn, 1988, p. 95). The expectations of the teacher are also fulfilled by the system of ability grouping and tracking which exists in most American schools. In this system, the students who are expected to perform poorly are placed in special learning groups. Unfortunately, this system does little to help the students overcome their educational disadvantages. In fact, it tends to reinforce those disadv



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