A Comparative Study of Two Economically Diverse Public Elementary Schools -- Jennifer J. Crapse is currently a fifth grade math teacher at Guyton Elementary in Guyton, Georgia, email@example.com.
In many schools an inequality of wealth exists. The purpose of this study was to examine the differences between two economically diverse public elementary schools and identify the factors that may have impacted student academic achievement. The theoretical framework includes Lareau’s dual theory of “concerted cultivation” and “accomplishment of natural growth,” Bandura’s model of triadic reciprocal causation and the theory of self-efficacy, Miskel’s model of organizational effectiveness, and the theory of persistent income inequality. This study was a descriptive mixed methods case study. The students’ academic achievement (CRCT scores), students’ socioeconomic status, amount of money spent per student, Parent-Teacher Organization funds, technology resources, teacher qualifications, and teacher-pupil ratio in the schools were compared. Collective efficacy and parent involvement were analyzed after collecting surveys, and principal interviews were conducted. The school with higher SES had significantly higher collective efficacy than the school with lower SES (t (71) = 7.36, p < .001). No significant differences were found in parental involvement between the two schools. The lower achieving school had more students with disabilities, more economically disadvantaged students, less external funding, fewer technology resources, and lower collective efficacy. A key to equalizing the achievement gaps and compensating for the socioeconomic differences appears to be teacher efficacy.