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The effects of the teacher-student relationship, teacher expectancy, and culturally-relevant pedagogy on student academic achievement

Dissertation
Author: Jay Andre R. Caballero
Abstract:
Purpose: A student's academic success, as determined by achieving proficiency or advanced levels on the California Standards Test (CST) is said to be predicated on solid and effective core content knowledge and delivery by the teacher. This position ignores the impact of the teacher's effectiveness in creating a positive relationship with the student, having an encouraging disposition towards students, and establishing a learning environment steeped in multiculturalism and diversity. The purpose of this study is to determine whether or not these latter practices have a direct impact on the academic achievement of the student as measured by the California Standards Test. Methodology: A sixty-item survey called the Teacher-Student Relationship Questionnaire (TSRQ) was used to collect data provided from 7th and 8th grade middle school students. The TSRQ was designed to measure student perception of their previous year's Language Arts teacher on the constructs of the teacher-student relationship, teacher expectations, and the teacher's use of culturally-relevant pedagogy within the instructional practice. Completed surveys were sorted and the comparative means for each item was calculated. The mean responses were compared using a one sample t-test for percentages against CST student growth percentage. Findings: Descriptive statistics found a significant relationship between student perceptions of the teacher-student relationship and academic growth; however, statistical analysis did not reveal a statistically significant relationship between student perception of the teacher-student relationship and academic growth. Conclusions and recommendations: This study will be of significance to the educational community because in today's era of educational accountability, it is vital that teachers establish a positive interpersonal relationship with students in order to effectively deliver the curriculum to students with intentions of improving student academic achievement. The interaction and connection between the teacher and student must be steeped in trust, respect, and admiration, which will open up pathways of learning and eventually increase student achievement. Further studies are recommended in the areas of culturally-relevant pedagogy and how this construct impacts teacher effectiveness and student academic achievement.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page

................................ ................................ ................................ ..........................

i

Signature Page

................................ ................................ ................................ .................

ii

Copyright

................................ ................................ ................................ ........................

iii

Acknowledgements

................................ ................................ ................................ .........

iv

Dedication

................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... v

Abstract of Dissertation

................................ ................................ ................................ ..

vi

Table of Contents

................................ ................................ ................................ ..........

viii

List of Tables

................................ ................................ ................................ ..................

xi

1.

INTRODUCTION

Introduction to the Study

................................ ................................ ............................ 1

Statement of the Problem

................................ ................................ ............................ 4

Importance of the Study

................................ ................................ .............................. 4

Research Questions

................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 5

Assumptions

................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 5

Delim itations of the Study

................................ ................................ .......................... 5

Limitations of the Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 6

Definition of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 7

Organization of the Study

................................ ................................ ........................... 8

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ix

2.

REVIEW OF THE LITERAT URE

Introduction

................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 10

The Teacher - Student Relationship

................................ ................................ ............ 11

Self - Determination Theory

................................ ................................ ....................... 12

Educational Resilience Theory

................................ ................................ ................. 22

Teacher Expectancy Model and Teacher Disposition

................................ .............. 24

The Self - Fulfilling Prophecy

................................ ................................ .................... 24

Teacher Expectancy Theory

................................ ................................ ..................... 24

Culturally - Releva nt Pedagogy

................................ ................................ .................. 34

Cultural Proficiency

................................ ................................ ................................ .. 36

Critical Race Theory

................................ ................................ ................................ . 41

Cultural Deficit Thinking Theory

................................ ................................ ............. 42

Conclusions

................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 45

3.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Introduction

................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 46

Instrumentation

................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 47

Reliability and Validity

................................ ................................ ............................. 49

Population and S ample

................................ ................................ ............................. 52

Reseach Design

................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 53

Delimitations of the Study

................................ ................................ ........................ 55

Limitations of the Study ................................ ................................ ............................ 56

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x

4.

PRESENTATION AND AN ALYSIS OF DATA

Organization of Data Analysis and Theoretical Construct

................................ ....... 57

Summary of Study

................................ ................................ ................................ .... 58

Presentation of Data

................................ ................................ ................................ .. 59

5.

DISCUSSION,

IMPLICATI ONS FOR PRACTICE, A ND SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEAR CH

Discussion

................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 77

Implications for Practice

................................ ................................ ........................... 81

Recommendations

................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 88

APPENDIX

A

................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 8 9

TSRQ: A Student Survey

................................ ................................ .......................... 90

APPENDIX B

................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 9 5

Parental Informed Consent Form

................................ ................................ .............. 9 6

APPENDIX C

................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 9 9

Letter From Principal

................................ ................................ .............................. 100

APPENDIX D

................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 101

Letter From Superintendent

................................ ................................ .................... 10 2

REFERENCES

................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 10 3

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xi

LIST OF TABLES

TABLE

PAGE

Table 1 .

Reliability Sta tistics: Teacher - student relationship…………………………..50

Table 2 .

Reliability Statistics: Teacher expectancy

................................ ......................

51

Table 3 .

Reliability Statistics: Culturally - relevant pedagogy

................................ .......

51

Table 4 .

Teacher ranking of mean scores from full construct

................................ ......

60

Table 5 .

Comparison o f student growth in classes of teachers having positive relationships, expectancy, and culturally - re levant pedagogy with classes of

teachers having poor relationships, expectancy, and culturally - relevant pedagogy

.....

61

Table 6 .

Comparison of student growth i n classes of teachers having positive relationships, expectancy, and culturally - relevant pedagogy with classes of

teachers having poor relationships, expectancy, and culturally - relevant pedagogy;

top two teachers and bottom two teachers

................................ ................................ ....

62

Table 7 .

Teach er ranking of mean scores from the TSR construct

...............................

63

Table 8 .

Comparison of student growth in classes of teachers having positive relationships with classes of teachers having poor relationships

................................ ..

64

Table 9 .

Comparison of student growth in classes of teacher s having positive relationships with classes of teachers having poor relationships; top two teachers

and bottom two teachers

................................ ................................ ...............................

65

Table 10 .

Teacher ranking of mean scores from the TE construct

...............................

66

Table 11 .

Comparison of student growth in classes of teachers

having positive

teacher expectancy with classes of teachers having poor teacher expectancy

..............

67

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xii

Table 12 .

Comparison of student growth in classes of teachers having positive

teacher expectancy with classes of teachers having poor teacher expectancy; top

two teachers and bottom two teachers

................................ ................................ ..........

68

Table 13 .

Teacher ranking of mean scores from the CRP construct

............................

69

Table 14 .

Comparison of student growth in classes of teachers having positive

culturally - relevant pedagogy with classes of teachers having poor cult urally -

relevant pedagogy

................................ ................................ ................................ .........

70

Table 15 .

Comparison of student growth in classes of teachers having positive

culturally - relevant pedagogy with classes of teachers having poor culturally -

relevant pedagogy; top two teachers and bottom two teachers

................................ .....

71

Table 1 6 .

Teacher ranking of mean scores from the CM construct

..............................

72

Table 17 .

Comparison of student growth in classes of teachers having positive

classroom management with classes of teachers having poor classroom

management

................................ ................................ ................................ ..................

73

Table 18 .

Comparison of student gro wth in classes of teachers having positive

classroom management with classes of teachers having poor classroom

management; top two teachers and bottom two teachers

................................ ..............

74

Table 19 .

Teacher ranking of mean scores from CST 08 - 09

................................ ........

75

Table 20 .

Teacher ranking of

mean scores from CST growth 07 - 08 to 08 - 09

.............

73

Table 21 .

Model Summary of Full Regression Analysis of TSR, TE, & CRP

as a group

................................ ................................ ................................ ......................

77

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CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

In this era of standards - based instruction, standardized - testing,

and accountability, the focus o f the teacher‘s English - Language Arts and Mathematics academic program rests on maintaining fidelity to the core curriculum through competent core - area knowledge, solid instructional design and delivery, and effective assessment and evaluation of the stude nt‘s knowledge. The child‘s first instruction must employ the most valid and effective methods available to ensure mastery of the skills that lay the foundation for further reading achievement ( Bruton, 2007 ). To meet or exceed this goal, the California Sta te Board of Education (SBE) adopted nine Essential Program Components (EPC) that guide administrators and teachers in supporting the district and site expectations for student academic achievement. These nine EPCs include: 1) use of SBE - adopted language ar ts and mathematics instructional materials, 2) implementation of instructional minutes for basic core time, 3) use of instructional pacing guides, 4) implementation of a school administrator instructional leadership training program, 5) highly qualified te achers, 6) ongoing instructional support for teachers, 7) implementation of a student achievement monitoring system, 8) implementation of monthly structured teacher collaboration time, and 9) fiscal support aligned to full implementation of EPCs (Californ ia Department of Education, 2008). When the EPCs are in place, student academic achievement is measured using multiple sets of student data collection methods such as district benchmarks, student grades, and state testing results. These results are determi nants of student academic achievement which contribute to the

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school‘s overall performance on the fed eral program No Child Left Behind, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and the state‘s Academic Performance Index (API).

Missing from the EPCs of student acade mic achievement is a component that drives classroom instruction and determines whether a teacher has the capacity to provide effective instruction and assessment in the classroom. That component is the facility of the teacher to establish and develop a re lationship with the student steeped in trust, respect, admiration, empathy, and cultural competence or proficiency. (Goddard, Tschannen - Moran, & Hoy, 2001; Lindsey, Robins, & Terrell, 1999).

Effective teachers create classroom environments that exhibit tru st between the teacher and student, which is a critical vehicle for improving urban elementary schools and overcoming some disadvantages of poverty (Goddard et al., 2001). Effective teachers also create a sense of caring that is reciprocated from teacher - t o - student and student - to - student and employ high standards and expectations for academic and behavioral outcomes. A major supposition is that teachers who are perceived to be warm, caring, and supportive have a positive effect on students. The effective te acher‘s classroom management system is predicated on the readiness of students to succeed. In these classrooms, students are motivated to learn, strive to meet the teacher‘s behavioral expectations, and are cognizant of the benefits of academic achievement . Thus, behavioral issues such as disruption or willful defiance are minimal or non - existent (Montalvo, Mansfield, & Miller, 2007). More important in establishing a bond and rapport with students is when teachers invite the student‘s schema and background into classroom discourse. The student‘s cultural capital referred to as behavioral styles, ways of speaking, cultural preferences, and understanding of valued cultural knowledge, is a

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vital part of the instructional environment because the teacher understa nds that activation of student prior knowledge and experiences provides a connection between the curriculum and student learning (Olneck, 2000).

Ineffective teachers solely focus on instruction and delivery while disregarding the component of establishing relationships with students. Their classroom environment is characterized as authoritarian, positional, and filled with low expectations. There is a lack of trust between the teacher and student which results in behavioral issues such as outright defiance,

constant disruption, and lack of participation. As a result of this environment, student academic achievement is nominal. (Frey & Fisher, 2008; Darling - Hammond & Ifill - Lynch, 2006). T auber (1998) believed: ―the basis of the self - fulfilling prophecy is tha t once a student has been pegged ahead of time as, say, a ‗troublemaker,‘ ‗non - scholar,‘ or ‗likely to be self - centered,‘ the chances are increased that the treatment of this student will, in effect, help negative prophecies or expectations come true.‖

( pg . 1 ) .

Ineffective teachers do not bridge the student‘s background and cultural capital with the academic program. In failing to do so, the teacher is viewed by students as insincere, uncaring, and non - trustworthy (Merchant & Shoho, 2007). They exhibit tra its of what Lindsey et al., (1999) call cultural destruction, incapacity, and blindness, which seek to devalue or not recognize the student‘s background and culture.

The teacher - student relationship, more so than effective teaching strategies, assessment strategies, or student engagement strategies, is a significant part of the teacher‘s academic program because it promotes a sense of trust, admiration, and respect, which is vital in building a connection between the teacher and student. This dissertation

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examines the teacher - student relationship and how it is a fundamental piece in the teacher‘s academic program to ensure effective instructional, social justice, equity, and culturally - relevant practices in the classroom.

Statement of the Problem

A stu dent‘s academic success, as determined by achieving proficiency or advanced levels on the California Standards Test (CST) is said to be predicated on solid and effective core content knowledge and delivery by the teacher. This position ignores the impact o f the teacher‘s effectiveness in creating a positive relationship with the student, having an encouraging disposition towards students, and establishing a learning environment steeped in multiculturalism and diversity. The purpose of this study is to deter mine whether or not these latter practices have a direct impact on the academic achievement of the student as measured by the California Standards Test.

Importance of the Study

If the findings of this study show that a positive relationship between the te acher and student will increase student academic achievement, then the information will have significant value to school leaders and teachers. In this era of accountability, there is a clear and present focus on curriculum design, instructional delivery, a nd assessment. What often gets lost in the overall academic program is a focus on the interpersonal relationship between the teacher and student, the teacher‘s disposition and how that affects student intrinsic motivation and the student‘s willingness to s ucceed. If the findings of this study show the correlation between the teacher - student relationship and

The effects of the teacher - student relationship

5

student academic achievement, then the practice of establishing positive interpersonal relationships with students will be shown to be an important comp onent of an academic program.

Research Question s

1) To what degree does the relationship between the teacher and student affect student academic achievement?

2) To what degree does the relationship between the teacher and student affect the teacher‘s ca pability to administer an effective classroom management system?

3) To what degree do admiration, trust, and respect support the teacher‘s ability to construct a learning environment that promotes student academic achievement?

4) To what degree do admirati on, trust, and respect support a teacher‘s ability to construct a learning environment that promotes multiculturalism?

Assumptions

It was assumed that all students invited to participate in this study completed the questionnaire used in this study and res ponded as accurately and candidly as possible.

It was assumed that responses from participants were provided freely and that participants were free from influence or intimidation.

Delimitations of the Study

Following are delimitations of this study:

1)

The s ample in this study consisted of middle school students.

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6

2)

Only 7 th

and 8 th

grade middle school students that attended Fontana Middle School during the 2008 - 09 school year were included in this sample.

3)

English - Language Arts CST student scaled - score data from

the 2008 - 09 school year was used in this study.

4)

This study was conducted between December 2009 and January 2010.

5)

Participants responded to the same sixty survey items, which were read aloud by the principal investigator.

6)

The use of a questionnaire limited

the scope of responses by participants to the content of the items included.

Limitations of the Study

Following are limitations of this study:

1)

The findings in this study may not be common to public middle schools in districts other than Fontana Unified S chool District.

2)

The findings of this study would have been strengthened if more students had participated in this study.

3)

The ability to respond to the survey items amongst participants in this age range may vary according to their rational or emotional tho ught pattern.

4)

It was revealed that some participants were grouped into their language arts class based on their academic performance level from the 2008 - 09 school year.

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7

Definition of Terms

The following definitions of terms are basic to this study.

Cult urally - relevant pedagogy: incorporating the values, experiences, and perspectives of their students‘ cultures into the curriculum (Esposito

& Swain , 2009).

Cultural deficit thinking:

Deficit thinking accounts for students‘ academic and social struggles at school by pointing out those ―desirable‖ attributes a student or student‘s family lack (Valencia, 1997).

Pygmalion effect:

more commonly known as the ―teacher - expectancy effect‖

refers to situations in which students perform better than other students simp ly because they are expected to do so.

Resilience:

the process of bouncing back and fully recovering in the face of change and stressful situations. Being resilient doesn't mean a person won't experience difficulty or stress. However, resilient individual s respond to stress in ways that help them not only recover, but grow and thrive.

Self - fulfilling prophecy:

Self - fulfilling prophecy is a phenomenon by which people‘s expectations about the future events lead them to behave in particular ways that, on occa sion, can cause the expected event to occur.

Student academic achievement:

for the purposes of this study, student academic achievement will be defined as the scaled score range of 350 needed to attain a proficiency level on the California Standards Test (CST) for English - Language Arts.

Teacher disposition:

values, commitments, and professional ethics that influence a

teacher's

behavior toward his/her students, families, colleagues, and communities (NCATE, 2006).

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8

Teacher - student relationship:

the positive

or negative interactions the teacher has with students and students have with the teacher.

Organization of the Study

Chapter 1 of the study has presented the introduction, the statement of the problem, the importance of the study, the research questions,

the assumptions of the study, the delimitations and limitations of the study, and the definitions of terms.

Chapter 2 presents a review of relevant literature that provides a theoretical framework for the study. It addresses the following topics: 1) the teacher - student relationship, focusing on Resilience Theory and Self - Determination Theory, 2) teacher expectancy model and teacher disposition, focusing on Teacher Expectancy Theory and Self - Fulfilling Prophecy, and 3) Culturally - Relevant Pedagogy, focusin g on Critical Race Theory and Cultural Deficit Thinking Theory.

Chapter 3 presents the methodology the researcher followed in conducting this study, including

the population

sample

selection,

the research design, the survey instrument, procedures used, dat a collection, and the statistical analysis of the data collected.

Chapter 4 details the findings of the study and presents an examination of the data.

Chapter 5 summarizes the findings, presents the significance of the st udy, implications for practice, c ulminating in conclusions and recommendations.

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CHAPTER II

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

An effective academic program within the walls of a classroom involves solid instructional design and delivery, fidelity to the core curriculum, and on - going assessment and evaluation of student progress which guides future instructional practice. The facility of the teacher to establish and develop a relationship with the student steeped in trust, respect, admiration, empathy, and cu ltural proficiency is just as

importan t an element to the academic program as instructional delivery, fidelity to the core curriculum, and assessment/evaluation. This review of literature is focused on research that explored how the interactions between teachers and students impacted student a chievement.

This chapter is divided into three sections:

1) Teacher - student relationship

the establishment of positive rapport between teacher and student that promotes student engagement and participation, which leads to academic progress and achieveme nt. The theoretical framework for this section: Self - Determination Theory and Educational Resilience Theory.

2) Teacher expectancy model and teacher disposition

a teacher‘s expectation for student achievement has a significant effect on student academic

and social outcomes. The positive presence and conduct of a teacher promotes trust and respect with the student. The theoretical framework for this section: Teacher Expectancy Theory and Self - fulfilling Prophecy.

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10

3) Culturally - relevant pedagogy

implemen ting pedagogy that focuses on the experiences of students that enter the classroom with diverse cultures, ethnicities, and experiences. The theoretical framework for this section: Critical Race Theory and Cultural Deficit Thinking Theory.

The Teacher - Stud ent Relationship

In this era of standardized testing and accountability, schools focus on curriculum, instruction, fidelity to the core curriculum, assessment, and evaluation. Often left out in the discourse of effective teaching is the dynamics of the tea cher - student relationship. The teacher - student relationship is a vital component to the teacher‘s overall academic program. Without a strong, positive rapport with students, the teacher creates a lack of trust between him self

and the students, develops an environment steeped with low expectations, and promotes off - task and disruptive, defiant classroom behavior.

The need to develop more effective teaching practices that focus on the teacher - student relationship content is well documented. Establishing posi tive rapport between the teacher and the student is critical in maintaining a sense of caring and empathetic learning environment. The actions of teachers as role models should demonstrate and project positive attitudes, beliefs, and expectations of learn ing that students can easily take hold of. The school environment seeks to foster students‘ social, ethical, and intellectual development as having caring and supportive relationships and collaboration among and between students, staff, and parents. One finding suggested that perceptions of relationships with teachers are significant influences on student engagement, achievement, and expectations (Davila, 2003).

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11

Cranley - Gallagher & Mayer (2006) reflected on what it means for teachers to put relationship s with children as the priority in their practice. They presented four themes that they believe are at the heart of a good relationship: (1) recognition, (2) familiarity, (3) respect, and (4) commitment. Riddle (2003) lists four similar essential compone nts for establishing a positive teacher - student rapport from day one: trust, respect, communication, and discipline. They emphasized that teacher - child relationships are important for social - emotional and cognitive development as well as later academic lea rning. Positive relationships between teachers and children, constructed in a context of warm, respectful interaction, are central to develop mentally appropriate practice. This is e specially true in developing relationships to establish a positive rapport

with students. C hildren in the early elementary grades benefit greatly from a good relationship with their teacher. It is early in a child‘s educational career that he develops a social attachment towards peers and adults (Cr anley - Gallagher & Mayer ).

Sel f - determination theory, when applied to the realm of education, is concerned primarily with promoting in students an in terest in learning, a valuing of

education, and a confidence in their own capacities and attributes ( Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier, & Ryan, 1991). Self - determination theory and self - systems theory articulate

that individuals‘ natural propensity for seeking challenges and enjoying mastering new learning (i.e. intrinsic motivation) unfolds when their underlying basic psychological needs for comp etence, autonomy, and relatedness are met. In school, student autonomy is more restricted, so relatedness ,

or feeling securely connected to others ,

plays a particularly important role in promoting the internalization of teachers‘ goals and values. Thus, th e quality of student relationships with their teacher influences academic outcomes through

The effects of the teacher - student relationship

12

direct contributions to students‘ motivation and school engagement ( Patrick, Mantzicopoulos, Samarapungavan, & French, 2008). Henderson & Milstein (2003) argued that

pro - social bonding, or constructive interactions, increases positive connections among youth, their peers, and other adults. These positive connections build resilience skills that are critical to student success. Whether a teacher provides a positive env ironment for early childhood social interactions or not, the child will create his social schema, or general social knowledge. At that point, the student will have a nurturing path to continue to walk down or will succumb to negativity caused by the harmfu l interactions between his teachers, peers, or with other adults in the student‘s life. Because student - teacher relationships are essential to children‘s social and emotional development, they have the potential to exert positive or negative influence on children‘s ability to succeed in school (Pianta & Stuhlman, 2004).

Pianta & Stuhlman‘s study is suggestive of harmful implications that a negative relationship with students can have on the academic and social behavior of the student. A good teacher - child

relationship may be even more valuable for children with behavior and learning challenges. Students arrive to the schooling environment with a diverse set of background experiences. We know that all students do not come with a solid home environment that suggests stability and consistency in academic and behavioral outcomes. Some children arrive at school with social capital that often disadvantages them in the realm of communication and interactions (Hamre & Pianta, 2001). What teachers need most to know about students is hidden. Unless they develop a trusting relationship with their students, teachers will not have access to the knowledge they need either to solve classroom problems or to motivate students. As teachers learn more about

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how students think and feel, they will be able to create classes where students have fun because they are engaged in learning in diverse, purposeful, and meaningful ways (Dodd, 1995).

Full document contains 132 pages
Abstract: Purpose: A student's academic success, as determined by achieving proficiency or advanced levels on the California Standards Test (CST) is said to be predicated on solid and effective core content knowledge and delivery by the teacher. This position ignores the impact of the teacher's effectiveness in creating a positive relationship with the student, having an encouraging disposition towards students, and establishing a learning environment steeped in multiculturalism and diversity. The purpose of this study is to determine whether or not these latter practices have a direct impact on the academic achievement of the student as measured by the California Standards Test. Methodology: A sixty-item survey called the Teacher-Student Relationship Questionnaire (TSRQ) was used to collect data provided from 7th and 8th grade middle school students. The TSRQ was designed to measure student perception of their previous year's Language Arts teacher on the constructs of the teacher-student relationship, teacher expectations, and the teacher's use of culturally-relevant pedagogy within the instructional practice. Completed surveys were sorted and the comparative means for each item was calculated. The mean responses were compared using a one sample t-test for percentages against CST student growth percentage. Findings: Descriptive statistics found a significant relationship between student perceptions of the teacher-student relationship and academic growth; however, statistical analysis did not reveal a statistically significant relationship between student perception of the teacher-student relationship and academic growth. Conclusions and recommendations: This study will be of significance to the educational community because in today's era of educational accountability, it is vital that teachers establish a positive interpersonal relationship with students in order to effectively deliver the curriculum to students with intentions of improving student academic achievement. The interaction and connection between the teacher and student must be steeped in trust, respect, and admiration, which will open up pathways of learning and eventually increase student achievement. Further studies are recommended in the areas of culturally-relevant pedagogy and how this construct impacts teacher effectiveness and student academic achievement.