The importance of teacher’s classroom management skills in promoting positive learning environments and student outcomes is well documented. Much of this research reports on the effects of classroom management on student behavior, particularly for students who are at risk for development chronic classroom behavior problems. However, many researchers posit that the positive effects of proficient classroom management skills should, in turn, have positive effects on children’s learning. Thus, the present study examines the predictive role of teachers’ classroom management skills on students’ end-of-year academic achievement, considering how child problem behavior influences this relation.
Using data from a business-as-usual comparison group from the final year of a randomized control trial, we estimate the predictive association between teachers’ classroom management skills and students’ end of year literacy scores, considering how student entry level problem behavior influences this relation. Our sample includes data from 28 pre-k teachers and 72 children who were identified as with or at-risk for emotional and behavioral disorders.
Our results indicate that classroom management ability at the beginning of the year predicts end of year sound fluency (p <.01) controlling for pretest problem behavior, and the effect is approaching significance for naming fluency (p = .06). The interaction of pretest problem behavior and pretest classroom management does not significant predict post test naming fluency (p = .206), however, in the exploratory study, the interaction of pretest problem behavior and pretest classroom management marginally predicts post test sound fluency (p =.065). In this preliminary investigation, we report that pre-k teachers’ classroom management skills are significantly associated with their students’ end of year literacy scores. This suggests that teachers who are more prepared to manage the behavior of students in their classroom may be able to situate their instruction in an environment that is more conducive to student learning.
Classroom management is routinely identified as one of top problems and priorities of pre- and in-service teachers. However, classroom and behavior management training remains inadequate in teacher preparation programs in the United States. Our findings provide support of the importance of classroom management in young children’s literacy outcomes, and highlight the ongoing need for efforts to improve the training of our pre- and in-service teachers.