Engaging Economically Marginalized Families: The Effect of a District’s Current Common Resources on Ninth Grade Student Achievement



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Background: Family engagement has been shown to positively impact student achievement for students of all socioeconomic statuses (SES). For economically marginalized families, barriers put a strain on if, how, and when engagement occurs. Law, policy, and best practice intersect to influence how schools address the minimum standards of Family and Community engagement. Purpose: The primary objective of this study was to examine district and state archival data to identify improved approaches to connect with economically marginalized families. By comparing data between SES groups and campuses, more was learned about engagement and how to improve current efforts. Two research questions guide this study: RQ 1 - At what rate do families engage in campus opportunities for their child in the ninth grade? RQ 2 - To what extent do STAAR EOC outcomes differ by family income status and family engagement? Method: The sample comprises approximately 5,000 ninth-grade students in one school district served by six high school campuses from cohort 2026 identified as not economically and economically disadvantaged (ECODIS). Levels of family engagement were analyzed using existing local data. Achievement data included scores from the Texas Education Agency Spring 2023 EOC administration. Results: RQ 1 - Campus engagement varied from low, moderate, and high between the six campuses based on three sets of engagement data. There was a statistically significant difference in parent access center data for students identified as ECODIS between campuses, t (5) =13.263, p<.001. Campus Improvement Plans were analyzed to measure common themes in policy language; the mean frequency was 8.33 (SD 3.77), while the mean score based on strength of recommendations was 11.67 (SD 6.95). Campus visits were explored, this indicated an occurrence of visits ranging between 18-44% of the population for each campus. RQ 2 - Next, achievement data was analyzed between the groups. State achievement data indicated a significant effect on test scores based on ECODIS status, t (2316.85) = 14.24, p<.001. At a local level, there was no significant difference between the two groups, t (6) = 1.063, p=3.29. However, scores for students identified as ECODIS statistically differed t (6357) =693.75, p<.001 between campuses with a large effect size (8.70). Finally, engagement rating and achievement data were combined. A Pearson Correlation indicated that campus engagement rating and scale score were statistically significant, r (35) =.44, p = .007. The relationship between ECODIS status and scale score was also confirmed as statistically significant, r (35) = -.51, p = .002. The proportion of variance on scale score was influenced by the subject of the test F (2, 4.033) = 162.516, p<.01 with a magnitude of .988, followed by the campus engagement rating F (2, 4.103) = 56.885, p=.001 with a magnitude of .965, and the ECODIS status F (1, 14027) = 1531.164, p<.001 with a magnitude of .098. There was a connection between higher campus engagement ratings and higher scales for students identified as ECODIS. Conclusion: Improving engagement for economically marginalized families is a goal worth communicating, working towards, and strengthening. While parents change how they engage as their children age, the value of maintaining engagement does not change.



family engagement, socioeconomic status, economically marginalized, economically disadvantaged, family and community engagement, rate of engagement, family income status