Can Educators Be Both Good and Successful?
There is limited research on the relationship between socially just teaching practices and student achievement. While successful teaching is often defined through test scores, good teaching encompasses the moral elements of teaching (Fenstermacher & Richardson, 2005). This study, building on the work of Mitescu, Cochran-Smith, Pedulla, Cannady, and Jong (2011), is a secondary analysis examining the relationship between socially just teaching practices and student achievement. A subsample of 4th and 5th grade English/language arts (ELA) teachers (n=107) and students (n=2587) was taken from the Measures of Effective Teaching Longitudinal Database (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2013). Classroom videos were coded using the Teaching for Social Justice Observation Scale (TSJOS) of the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol-Plus (RTOP+) (Mitescu et al.) to measure socially just teaching practices. Unadjusted linear regression analyses indicated a positive significant correlation between teachers’ mean TSJOS score and the class averages on standardized state ELA exams and the class average on an assessment of higher-order thinking skills. This relationship was also found when the same analysis was conducted on 4th grade classrooms as well as 5th grade classrooms. A hierarchical multiple linear regression found a positive significant relationship between TSJOS scores and student achievement after accounting for location, teacher, and student predictor variables. The relationship between socially just teaching practices and student achievement for subgroups of students is discussed. The study analyzed the significance and magnitude of the relationship between socially just teaching practices after two widely used classroom observation protocols, the Framework for Teaching (FfT) and the Protocol for Language Arts Observation Scale (PLATO), were entered into the model. Teacher mean TSJOS scores were found to explain a significant and unique proportion of the variation in state assessment scores after accounting for average FfT ELA observation scores and teacher average PLATO observation scores, separately. This study adds to the literature on the connection between socially just teaching practices and student achievement, in that it provides compelling evidence that socially just teaching practices are not only related to the good, or moral, side of teaching, but also have a positive and significant relationship with increased student achievement for all students.