Observer and Student Ratings of the Class Environment: A Preliminary Investigation of Convergence

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The present study examined the relationship between student and observer ratings of the class environment. More specifically, class responses on the Responsive Environmental Assessment for Classroom Teaching (REACT; Theodore J. Christ & Colleagues, 2015) were compared with observer ratings on the Classroom Strategies Assessment System—Observer Form (Reddy, Fabiano, & Dudek, 2013). This study included 38 teachers and 582 students from 5 high-poverty schools. Observational data were reported as discrepancy scores, which reflect the difference between the recommended frequency and observed frequency of specific instructional and behavioral management strategies for classroom teachers. Pearson correlations were used to evaluate the relationship between the 6 subscales included on the REACT and the 9 subscales included on the CSAS-O. Results provide preliminary evidence for the relationship between observer and student ratings of the class environment. More specifically, as discrepancy scores decreased, student ratings of the class environment tended to be more positive. The relationship between the REACT and the CSAS-O differed across subscales; however, in general, subscales that were conceptually similar tended to demonstrate stronger relationships than subscales that were conceptually distinct. Thus, the observed results also provide preliminary evidence that students are capable of discriminating between the quality of different components of the class environment. The potential use of both observer and student ratings of the class environment to provide teachers with a more robust and comprehensive reference for professional development purposes is discussed within the context of a tiered model of support.

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