Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Martin Tombari, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Linda Brookhart

Third Advisor

Elinor Katz

Fourth Advisor

Ken Seeley


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.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Nicole Skalsky


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

147 p.


Educational psychology, Education