Can Instructional and Emotional Support in the First-Grade Classroom Make a Difference for Children at Risk of School Failure?


  • The work reported herein was supported in part by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care (U10-HD25449), NICHD R21-43750 and by American Psychological Association/Institute of Education Sciences Postdoctoral Education Research Training fellowship under the Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences grant number R305U030004.

concerning this article should be addressed to Bridget K. Hamre, University of Virginia, PO Box 800784, Charlottesville, VA 22908-0784. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study examined ways in which children's risk of school failure may be moderated by support from teachers. Participants were 910 children in a national prospective study. Children were identified as at risk at ages 5–6 years on the basis of demographic characteristics and the display of multiple functional (behavioral, attention, academic, social) problems reported by their kindergarten teachers. By the end of first grade, at-risk students placed in first-grade classrooms offering strong instructional and emotional support had achievement scores and student–teacher relationships commensurate with their low-risk peers; at-risk students placed in less supportive classrooms had lower achievement and more conflict with teachers. These findings have implications for understanding the role that classroom experience may play in pathways to positive adaptation.