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Teacher–Student Relationship Climate and School Outcomes: Implications for Educational Policy Initiatives


In recent discussions regarding concerns about the academic achievement of US students, educational policy makers have suggested the implementation of certain teacher policies. To address the limited empirical research on the putative educational impact of such policies, this study used multilevel structural equation models to investigate the longitudinal associations between teacher evaluation and reward policies, and student mathematics achievement and dropout with a national sample of students (n = 7,779) attending one of 431 public high schools. The student sample included an equal number of boys and girls averaging 16 years of age, and included a White (53%) majority. This study examined whether associations between teacher policies and student achievement were mediated by the teacher–student relationship climate. Results of this study were threefold. First, teacher evaluation policies that allowed students to evaluate their teachers were associated with more positive student reports of the classroom teaching climate. Second, schools with teacher reward policies that included assigning higher performing teachers with higher performing students had a negative association with student perceptions of the teaching climate. Lastly, schools with better student perceptions of the teaching climate were associated with lower student dropout rates by students’ senior year. These findings are discussed in light of their educational policy implications.

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This article is a modified version of a paper presented at the Third Annual Sloboda-Bukoski Society for Prevention Research Cup Competition as part of Society for Prevention Research 17th Annual Meeting, Washington, DC.

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Correspondence to John P. Barile.

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Barile, J.P., Donohue, D.K., Anthony, E.R. et al. Teacher–Student Relationship Climate and School Outcomes: Implications for Educational Policy Initiatives. J Youth Adolescence 41, 256–267 (2012).

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  • Academic achievement
  • School dropout
  • School policy
  • Teacher evaluation
  • Teacher reward