THE ROLE OF SCHOOL ENGAGEMENT AND EDUCATIONAL POLICY IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIO-EMOTIONAL SKILLS
Markowitz, Anna Justine
Ryan, Rebecca M
American public schools have long been the key policy mechanism for enhancing America’s human resources and for giving students the skills they need to be successful, contributing citizens in the complex, 21st century economy. Increasingly, these 21st century skills have been defined as not only academic competence but also as social and emotional skills, including the ability to inhibit impulses and delay gratification, to maintain a positive sense of self, to sustain healthy social relationships, and to set and achieve long-term goals -- likely because of their links to both short-term educational success and long-run well-being.Though evidence suggests that schools are able to enhance students’ social and emotional skills, it remains unclear how schools can best improve these important outcomes. This dissertation explores the role of emotional engagement with school, or students’ liking of, connection to, and sense of belonging in school, in promoting social and emotional development. The construct of school engagement has been previously associated with social and emotional outcomes, however this research has largely been conducted cross-sectionally with small, local samples, limiting its relevance for policy application. Moreover, no research has examined directly the role of federal education policy in shaping students’ engagement. This dissertation fills these gaps by using multiple large, national datasets and several analytic techniques to (1) rigorously asses whether there is a plausibly causal link between emotional engagement with school and socio-emotional outcomes, defined as delinquent behavior, depressive symptoms, and self-esteem, (2) determine if this relationship varies by student age, (3) determine whether this relationship varies as a function of family income, and (4) explore whether the enactment of No Child Left Behind impacted students’ emotional engagement with school.Findings suggest that the relationship between emotional engagement and socio-emotional outcomes is consistent across outcomes and moderate in size. This association decreases slightly as youth age, but does not vary by family income. However, findings also suggest that the consequential accountability systems enacted under No Child Left Behind eroded students’ engagement with school. These findings highlight the importance of students’ emotional connection to school, and have important implications for policymakers and educators working to implement the newly-authorized Every Student Succeeds Act.
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Markowitz, Anna J. (Georgetown University, 2013)Now serving nearly 2 million children, charter schools are an oft cited solution to America's achievement gap. While ample research has attempted to disentangle the impacts of charter school enrollment on academic achievement, ...