Children's social and emotional competence abilities have been linked to successful social interactions and academic performance. This study examined the teacher and observer ratings of social and emotional competence for 89 young (3- to 5-year-old), African American children from economically stressed urban environments. There was a specific interest in understanding the convergence and divergence of the raters on these competence behaviors within the classroom. This study also examined the association among children's competence abilities and their overall functioning at school. There were significant associations between teacher and observer reports of children's competence. Children who were observed to be socially and emotionally competent were rated by their teachers as functioning well in school. However, there were differences among teacher and observer reports in terms of the specific behaviors that represented social and emotional competence. These findings provide support for the use of multi-method, multi-informant measures to assess competence among African American children. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.