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Expectations for Academic Success Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Expectations for success represent the extent to which school staff value academic achievement and hold high expectations for all students. When teachers maintain high expectations, students tend to have higher achievement; in contrast, when teachers have low or negative expectations, student achievement suffers (Rubie-Davies, Hattie, & Hamilton, 2006).

The Learning Bar’s framework on the drivers of student outcomes includes measures of quality instruction, school context, classroom context and family context. Classroom context includes measures of positive teacher-student relations, positive learning climate, and expectations for success.

Why is it important?

  • Effective school leaders have high expectations for student achievement (OECD, 2016).
  • Teachers should clearly communicate the intentions of a lesson as well as the criteria for successful learning,emphasising growth for all students (Hattie, 2009).
  • Teachers who have low expectations for underperforming students can create self-fulfilling prophecies (OECD, 2016).
  • Expectations for success are associated with positive gains in intellectual engagement (Dunleavy, Milton, & Willms, 2012).

How do we measure it?

In Tell Them From Me, in both the primary and secondary school questionnaires, students respond to Likert questions that gauge the extent to which school staff value academic achievement and hold high expectations for all students. The measure is scaled on a 10-point scale and the results are reported as ‘the average score for expectations for success’.



Dunleavy, J., Milton, P., & Willms, J. D. (2012). Trends in Intellectual Engagement. What did you do in School Today? Research Series Report Number Three. Toronto: Canadian Education Association.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.

OECD (2016), Low-Performing Students: Why They Fall Behind and How To Help Them Succeed, PISA, OECDPublishing, Paris.DOI:

Rubie-Davies, C., Hattie, J., & Hamilton, R. (2006). Expecting the best for students: Teacher expectations and academic outcomes. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(3), 429-444.