Early elementary student-teacher relationship trajectories predict girls’ math and boys’ reading achievement

Carlos Valiente, Julia H. Parker, Jodi Swanson, Robert H. Bradley, Brittany M. Groh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Our goal was to identify trajectories in students’ relationships with their kindergarten, first, and second grade teachers, and to test whether the trajectories predict students’ achievement. To address this goal, each year, as students (N = 291) progressed from kindergarten to second grade, we assessed teachers’ reports on student-teacher-relationship closeness and conflict. We assessed achievement in second grade. We used latent class growth analyses to identify separate distinct trajectory classes of change for boys and girls in closeness and conflict. Boys were classified into 4 classes (stable-moderate, high-decreasing, decreasers, or increasers) for closeness and into 4 similar classes for conflict. Girls were classified into 3 classes (stable-high, decreasers, and increasers) for closeness, whereas only 2 classes (stable-low and decreasers) emerged for conflict. In general, girls benefited academically from a close student-teacher relationship in kindergarten, whereas boys benefited academically when they moved into a close, and away from a conflictual, relationship across kindergarten to second grade. The findings have implications for teacher trainings and programs designed to help children succeed in school.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-121
Number of pages13
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Achievement
  • Early elementary school
  • Longitudinal
  • Student-teacher relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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