For the finding, researchers from the University of North Carolina Charlotte followed 350 students in seven at-risk schools over a 5-year period.
They assessed both teacher perceptions of student behavior and academic achievement, as well as actual performance.
They found that teachers were more likely to report that well-behaved students did better academically and expected more of them even when some of these students were struggling with school-work.
At the same time, students who acted out in school were seen as having more academic difficulties, even though this was not always the case.
"Children are not well served when teachers believe that teaching behavior requires different skills than teaching academics. Or that teaching academics will magically improve behavior," said lead author Bob Algozzine.
The researchers concluded that it is important not to focus solely on improving academic or behavior problems in at-risk students, but to emphasize teaching both behavior and academic skills for these children.
"The take-away message in our work is that children have to be carefully taught academics and behavior if we want to see evidence of these accomplishments in school," said Algozzine.
The study has been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.