Is there a correlation between teacher efficacy and effectiveness to re-engage at-risk students and graduate on time?
Teachers are in the perfect position to be an influential source of help to students with life and academic circumstances that inhibit them from staying on the path to graduation, but they often underestimate their role in helping students develop the resilience to do so. Re-engaging students in the learning process who are severely off the graduation path may threaten the teacher's efficacy. Once school personnel have identified students with at-risk indicators this questions still exists: Are teachers ready to intervene in ways that will help students re-engage in school and become resilient so that they graduate on time? The study examined the impact of teacher efficacy beliefs on teacher perceptions of effectiveness in helping students at-risk of graduating on time. One hundred and forty-four teachers of grade 4, grade 7, and grade 9 who taught English Language Arts and/or math from one large school system in south Louisiana participated. The findings show that teachers responded in a highly efficacious manner but efficacy by grade level and subject area did not statistically differ. Teachers' perceptions of their effectiveness in assisting students re-engage academically did not differ significantly by grade level and subject area but did so for helping students re-engage behaviorally. In addition, teacher perceptions in assisting students with behavioral deficiencies was significant and positively correlated with teacher efficacy for grade 4 math and ELA teachers as well as grade 7 math teachers. Significant correlations were found for teacher perceptions in assisting students with academic deficiencies and the Student Engagement subscale of teacher efficacy for grade 4 math and ELA teachers, grade 9 ELA teachers as well as grade 9 math teachers. Given the variety of at-risk indicators that young children present in early grades, the results of this study offer insight into the practices that school leaders may establish in order to develop a comprehensive dropout reduction plan. This plan would focus on early identification, prevention and intervention strategies, as well as professional development to increases the efficacy of teachers working with at-risk students.