Professional Treatment of Teachers and Student Academic Achievement


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Virginia Tech


The effect of a principal's leadership on school climate and instructional organization seems apparent to parents and teachers. However, there is little evidence that a principal's leadership has a direct measurable effect on student achievement. Maehr's (1990) causal model, that ties school culture to student motivation and student motivation to student achievement, and Heck's (1990) structural equation model, that relates instructional leadership to student achievement, were the basis for posing relationships among professional treatment of teachers, school climate, instructional organization, and student achievement.

A professional treatment index, derived from highly correlated school climate variables, was used to separate elementary schools in Virginia Beach, Virginia, into four groups. Analysis of variance, followed by Duncan's new multiple range test, indicated that the academic achievement of students was significantly higher in the schools where teachers recorded the highest levels of professional treatment than in schools where teachers recorded the lowest levels of professional treatment for three of the four years studied.

Focus-group interviews at schools recording high levels of professional treatment enabled teachers to describe how their principals treated them. Key attributes of treatment were trust and confidence, a comfortable and caring environment, professional and personal respect, delegation of decision making, no fear of taking risks, listening, support, high expectations, and encouragement and praise. By emulating the attributes described as professional treatment by teachers, principals may influence student academic achievement.



Leadership, Academic achievement, school climate, teachers, professional treatment