Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational Policy and Leadership

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 125 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kathryn S. Schiller

Committee Members

Teniell L. Trolian, Kristen C. Wilcox


Achievement, Education, Gaps, Pedagogy, Perceptions, Relationships, Multicultural education, Teacher-student relationships, Academic achievement, Primary school teachers, Minorities

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Leadership | Education Policy


ABSTRACTIt has been over 50 years since desegregation efforts began and many public-school systems in the United States are still battling with performance gaps between White and historically underrepresented students. The term historically underrepresented refers to people from diverse racial, cultural, linguistic, and economically disadvantaged backgrounds who have been denied access or suffered institutional discrimination in the United States, and according to the U.S. Census includes Blacks/African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans (Artiles et al., 2010). Many historically underrepresented students are lagging behind their peers on academic performance measures, standardized achievement tests, high school graduation, and college-career readiness (Carter & Welner, 2013). Although researchers may debate the root cause to these disparities, the common denominator is students spend their school days in social interaction with teachers. By virtue of making decisions in the classrooms, teachers furnish a rationale for the implementation of curriculum, pedagogical decisions, and social emotional learning. These decisions, along with their consequences, are reflections of teacher perceptions, attitudes, and expectations (Gay, 2000). The purpose of this study was to explore the association between teachers’ perceived relationships with racially diverse students and students’ academic performance in schools with racially different demographic compositions. Teachers are an important source of information for students. However, little is known about whether teachers’ perceptions of their relationships with students and student performance are systematically biased. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K:2011), I used a quantitative methodology to foster a deeper understanding of the association between teachers’ perceptions of their relationships with students and student academic performance in schools with racially diverse student demographics. Using regression analyses, I found teachers perceive significantly greater conflict with Black students than they do with White students. These effects are significantly less for Asian students than White students. Teachers perceive significantly less closeness with Black, Asian, and Latinx students than they do with White students. Teachers rate the math and reading performance of Black and Latinx students significantly lower than White students and significantly higher for Asian students. Implications for education include the need to emphasize culturally responsive sustaining policies, practices, and curricula in schools. These findings add to a growing literature on the role of limited information in perpetuating educational attainment gaps. KEY WORDS: Achievement gaps, opportunity gaps, performance gaps, student–teacher relationships