Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Educational Administration and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Marty Tombair


achievement gap, engagement, ethnicity, socioeconomic


Evidence of the influence of engagement on learning and achievement is

well established. There is also indication of a test-score gap between poor

students and middle class students as well as among racial and ethnic groups.

This gap continues to be a top priority in educational reform. Since the

achievement gap continues to widen for many school districts and states,

investigating the possible connection between the engagement gap and the

achievement gap deserves needed attention.

This study sought to determine the differences in school engagement and

achievement levels between students from low and high-SES backgrounds, as

measured by free and reduced lunch, and between Caucasian and Hispanic

students. The study examined the engagement and achievement levels of

approximately 1,200 sixth grade middle school students in a suburban Colorado

school district.

The students' responses were then analyzed using independent sample t-

tests to determine differences. The major findings of this statistical analysis were

that slight differences exist between Caucasian and Hispanic students as well as

low and high-SES students on the 2007 CSAP scores in reading, writing, math,

and science scores and first trimester GPA for the 2007-2008 school year. In

addition, there were minimal differences between Hispanic and Caucasian

students and low and high-SES students in behavioral engagement, but not in

cognitive or emotional engagement.

This study has taken an in-depth look at engagement levels, and

differences in achievement were also explored. This study has confirmed that an

achievement gap exists. However, the results of this study have shown that the

achievement gap cannot be explained by an engagement gap. Based on the results

of this study, stressing the importance of engagement in school is not likely the

answer for closing the achievement gap.


Copyright is held by the author.


Recieved from ProQuest

Rights holder

Nicole Skalsky

File size

147 p.

File format





Educational psychology, Education