What’s in a Rating? Teacher Evaluations of Students’ Social Emotional Competency: A Mixed Methods Study
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University of Washington Abstract What’s in a Rating? Teacher Evaluations of Students’ Social Emotional Competency: A Mixed Methods Study Michelle Alissandra Proulx Chairperson of the Supervisory Committee Professor Leslie Herrenkohl Department of Learning Sciences and Human Development The impact of social and emotional skills on educational, career, and life outcomes is well supported in the research literature. Schools are increasingly implementing universal curricula to teach social and emotional skills to all students. Today’s climate of accountability places pressure on school administrators and policy makers to evaluate program effectiveness and provide evidence that students are acquiring the non-academic skills required to succeed in school and life. The current sequential explanatory mixed methods study investigated teacher ratings (N = 173) of elementary students (N = 4005) enrolled in 17 schools within a minority-majority school district in the Pacific Northwest. Hierarchical linear models were developed to evaluate the impact of child, classroom, and school variables on teacher ratings. The analyses demonstrated that after controlling for classroom and school membership, a child’s gender, age relative to classmates, race/ethnic heritage, and eligibility for support services significantly predicted teacher ratings. The effects of these predictors were moderated by school context. Following the quantitative investigation, 15 teachers from the participating school district were purposively sampled to participate in semi-structured cognitive interviews. The interviews were designed to elicit teachers’ thoughts when competing rating scale measures to provide insight into the ways in which teachers’ thoughts, beliefs, biases, and experiences influence ratings. The cognitive interviews revealed significant differences in teachers’ response styles and in their interpretation of the rating scale measure.
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