The environment for learning is the degree to which students feel safe and respected, supported, academically challenged, and the extent to which they perceive their peers to be socially and emotionally capable. Literature suggests that racial identity, both student and teacher, plays a role in education. There seems to be a divide between students and teachers which may result in a disproportionate number of African American students, specifically males, receiving lower grades, are more likely to drop out, or placed in Special Education classes. African American male students must know how to counteract the brains negativity bias and teachers must consider culturally responsive teaching. The role of social emotional learning is not prescriptive, nor is it a template. It is purposeful culturally responsive teaching that gives students the ability to become self and socially aware, that is, intentionally being empathetic to others.Order now
Currently, African American students are being identified as having a disability, emotional disturbance or mental retardation at a disproportionate rate in comparison to their white peers. This over-representation is occurring among minority students, African American males, and is quickly becoming one of the hot topics of education, again. Disproportionality is defined as the “over representation of minority students identified with a learning disability or other type of disability under IDEA” (Logsdon, 2017). There are laws that, in theory, acknowledge and prevent the problem of disproportionality, however, the National Education Association: Truth in Labeling reports that, “Black males who are viewed as having “challenging” behaviors are referred more often for special education programs serving children with emotional disabilities” (2007).
The implication for isolation and not properly educating are of great consequence, for example, racial achievement gaps, disproportionate numbers in discipline, and educational equity. When a specific group of individuals are over represented in special education, it shows “difficulties in effectively teaching struggling minority students” (Rebora, 2011). One theory regarding the overrepresentation of minorities in special education is the lack of interventions or understanding of assessment results. Another reason for overrepresentation is the relationship or lack thereof between the student and teacher. H. Richard Milner IV, in an Education Week (2011) article states, “there are kids placed in these programs because educators do not want to deal with them, do not know how, or do not know how to respond to them.”
This article discusses the overrepresentation of African American students in special education programs. The authors give an historical account of the first acts of disproportionality, which was the “arrival of African Americans” (Patton, 1998), and a social and political perspective. The article continues with discussing the “ambiguity and subjectivity” in the referral processes as well as the biases of the assessments (Patton, 1998). The author states that there is a need to have training and continuous development for “knowledge producers” and practitioners (Patton, 1998).
Overrepresentation of Minorities
According to (Kreskow, 2013), some factors in the overrepresentation of minority students in special education could be lack of professional development in culturally relevant teaching, test bias, low SES, or poor instruction. The purpose of the study was to determine if “culture barriers between students and teachers could be a cause of overrepresentation” (Kreskow, 2013). She suggests that the main cause of overrepresentation in this study was cultural barriers. The author surveyed 11 teachers in an upstate New York urban school as well as seventh graders in the same school. Kreskow (2013) uses the theory of culture as disability to make the point that disability “is not always directly related to the individual, but the dominant culture in power” (Kreskow, 2013, p. 5).
Conflict, Closeness, and Academic Skills
Students’ relationships with teachers are important to the student’s positive or negative perceptions toward the teacher. There like or dislike of the teacher is often shown through reactions or academic success or failure. The purpose of the current study is to observe teacher-student relationships as a predictor of achievement. The instrument used, Teacher-Student Relationship Quality (TSRQ) clarified the relationship pathways as predictors of achievement.
The risk level, as observed by the authors should be more developed and diverse. Most times samples would include those who are considered high risk or low achieving because of the ability to improve outcomes. Unique to this body of work was the suggestion that teachers should receive training in the areas of closeness and connectedness. The literature reviewed centered on the attachment theory and the importance of building relationships (Mason, Hajovsky, McCune, & Turek, p. 177).
Closing the Racial Discipline Gap
Racial disparity regarding discipline and its effect on academic achievement is the focus of this article. Authors attempt to explain this phenomenon in terms of concepts relevant to student teacher relationships and classroom management. Previous studies have discussed the notion that positive student-teacher relationships have a positive effect on academics.
It has also been established through other studies that teachers bring biases into the classroom. Issues regarding missing data and teachers not returning reports did not skew the data, however, authors should consider checking for any threats beforehand (Gregory, et al., p.181). This was the only issue that needed to be reworked. Using ongoing professional development and coaching had a positive effect on reducing the number of discipline referrals.
Does Liking a Specific Teacher Matter?
The focus of this study was to examine student-teacher relationships to ascertain if liking a teacher will improve a students’ academic achievement. This research is relevant because it adds to the current research regarding student-teacher relationships. It connects the feeling of belonging with thrust and safety. When students believe their teachers genuinely care about them, they are more likely to perform better, are motivated, and feel safe enough to let teachers know if they have a concern. Developmentally there was no issue with the sample chosen by the authors.
The sample of seventh and eighth graders are developmentally at the point where they tend to search for others outside of the home such as other peers or teachers to show affection. Positive relationships with teachers are beneficial to the student and the teacher. The student is intrinsically motivated to achieve, and the teacher is less stressed by the impact of negative relationships. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation was the focus on the literature reviewed. The notion that there are differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation among male and female students in elementary school and college (Raufelder, Scherber, & Megan, p. 738), however, it does not differ for elementary school students enrolled in math. Researchers indicated a need for future research to account for different age groups (Raufelder, Scherber, & Megan, p. 747).
Due to the number of African American students, specifically males being referred to the school psychologist for testing, the researcher wanted to review the process that a teacher uses to make that referral. After observations and conversations with the school psychologist as well as other staff in the school district, it was ascertained that there was not a procedure in place for teacher to refer students. One of the first steps to creating a process that teachers would follow as well as one that would provide interventions for students was to create an Intervention Assistance Team (IAT).
In previous years, the IAT’s focus was on high school to make sure that students received credit recovery for classes that they failed. The middle school did not have a focal point and according so some staff, they only looked at attendance. The current system or involves teachers stating that a student needs to be “tested for special education” if the student is a behavior issue in their class or if the student refuses to complete assignments. This planned intervention program involves a reboot of the Intervention Assistance Team and process and procedures, after school tutoring, online progress monitoring program, and professional development.
In December, an IAT will be formed which will consist of the school counselor and school psychologist, a general education teacher, intervention specialist, and an administrator. The purpose of the team will be to come up with a process to help meet the needs of general education students who are having difficulty academically and behaviorally using current data.