Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Teaching and Learning (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Batya Elbaum

Second Committee Member

Cengiz Zopluoglu

Third Committee Member

Wendy Cavendish

Fourth Committee Member

Elizabeth Harry

Fifth Committee Member

Cheryl Beverly


Problem behavior in kindergarten children, if severe or persistent, can lead to negative outcomes including school disciplinary responses such as expulsion. The perceptions of both teachers and parents are important in identifying young children’s problem behavior; however, studies indicate that teachers’ and parents’ ratings of children’s problem behavior are often discrepant. Using data from a nationally representative sample of children (Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort 2010-11; ECLS-K, 2011), the present study investigated such discrepancies in kindergarten students whose behavior ratings by their teachers indicated moderate to severe behavior problems (n = 3,310). For children in the analytic sample who were receiving special education services (n = 450), it was hypothesized that teachers’ and parents’ ratings would be in greater agreement, given that the process of developing the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) involves joint discussion, by a child’s teacher and the child’s parents, of the child’s strengths and challenges. Given previous literature on factors affecting agreement between teachers and parents, the analysis controlled for child’s gender, race, and race match/mismatch to the teacher’s race. Consistent with the findings of previous studies, results of a mixed Analysis of Variance showed a significant main effect for rater, such that teachers rated children as having more severe problem behaviors than parents. Contrary to what was hypothesized, the parent-teacher discrepancy was not attenuated for children with IEPs. Findings of the study are discussed in relation to the identification of children’s problem behaviors, the role of special education services addressing behavioral concerns, and school discipline policies for kindergarten students.


parent-teacher agreement; problem behavior; ECLS-K; kindergarten