Academic and Social-Emotional Classroom Composition and the Quality of Classroom Interactions in New York City Public Elementary Schools

Esther Essie Sutton, Fordham University


The objectives of this dissertation were to 1) identify common types of classrooms based on aggregate classroom levels of children’s academic skills and social-emotional competencies and well-being, and 2) examine the relation between classroom compositional profiles and the quality of classroom interactions across three domains of interactional quality (emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support), while accounting for the observed quality of interactions from teachers’ previous school year. The current study utilized data collected within the context of a randomized controlled trial of a combined social-emotional learning program (The 4Rs) and teacher coaching approach (MyTeachingPartner). Participants included 117 third grade teachers (89% female; 48% White, 31% Hispanic/Latino, 23% Black, 6% Mixed Race, 4% Asian) from 52 public elementary schools in Manhattan and the Bronx and 1803 third grade children (51% female; 66% Hispanic/Latino, 21% Black, 6% White, 5%Asian; 87% receiving free/reduced lunch). Children’s English Language Arts and Mathematics standardized test scores were obtained from the New York Department of Education. Teachers’ reported on their students’ social competencies (Social Competence Scale; CPPRG, 1999) and aggressive behaviors (BASC; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 1998) and children reported on their own depression and anxiety symptoms (BASC; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 1998). Observations of classrooms’ emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support were assessed by trained field researchers using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System—Upper Elementary Version (Pianta, Hamre, & Mintz, 2012). Latent profile analyses and a weighted multiple group analyses, known as the Bolck–Croon–Hagenaars (BCH) method, were conducted in Mplus version 8.1 (Muthén, & Muthén, 2018). A three-profile model was selected with classrooms grouped into one of the following three profiles: 1) academically and behaviorally high-risk classrooms (10%), 2) academically and emotionally at-risk classrooms (57%), and 3) academically and behaviorally low-risk classroom (50%). Results from the BCH analysis indicated that classrooms in the high-risk profile had significantly lower levels of emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support, while accounting for teachers’ prior year interactional quality and a set of demographic covariates (random assignment status, years of teaching, class size, and proportion of boys, students with individualized education plans, and students receiving free/reduced lunch).

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Educational psychology|Psychology

Recommended Citation

Sutton, Esther Essie, "Academic and Social-Emotional Classroom Composition and the Quality of Classroom Interactions in New York City Public Elementary Schools" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI13901366.