Student-Teacher Relationships and Skill Development of Early Elementary Special Education Students

David William Shelton, Tennessee State University


The student-teacher relationship plays an important role in the development of academic and social skills in early elementary (Torres, Domitrovich, & Bierman, 2015; Vitaro, Boivin, Brendgen, Girard, & Dionne, 2012; etc.). Although the importance of the student-teacher relationship is well-established, the importance for special education students is less clearly defined. Even less clear is the importance of the student-teacher relationship for African American special education students. The purpose of the current study is to clarify the predictive value that the student-teacher relationship in kindergarten has on the development of social skills and reading skills in first and second grade using path analysis. Specifically, two aspects of the student-teacher relationship, closeness and conflict (STRS; Pianta, 2001), in kindergarten were used as predictor variables for various social skill factors (SSRS; Gresham and Elliott, 1990) and reading achievement (IRT; Tourangeau et al., 2017) in first and second grade. Student race was included in the analysis as a moderator. Findings indicated both variables predict later social skills, though conflict is comparatively more predictive. Closeness alone predicted later reading skills, but only to a small extent. The impact of race as a moderator was limited. Results should better inform special education teachers, as well as general education teachers, as to what aspects of the student-teacher relationship should be attended to in order to promote growth in reading and social skills for special education students of various racial and ethnic backgrounds later in elementary.

Subject Area

Psychology|Teacher education|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

David William Shelton, "Student-Teacher Relationships and Skill Development of Early Elementary Special Education Students" (2023). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI30631132.