Levi Johnson, Christa Tucker, and Joseph Elefante
Ph.D. Students in Educational Leadership Policy
College of Education
Texas Tech University
Student engagement in school has been a persistent area of concern for educators, school leaders, policy makers, and stakeholders. Emerging research suggests that school closures and social isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic have only made connecting with students more challenging. In the search for cost-effective mechanisms for improving student attendance, engagement, achievement, researchers and practitioners have begun looking at the faces of students' peers and their teachers. As we seek effective responses to new challenges to student engagement, can placing students in classrooms with familiar or similar teachers and peers positively affect these outcomes? We examine the impact of demographic representation among peers and teachers and having familiar peer and teacher faces. To accomplish this, we explore four years of administrative data from a small, urban school district in California. Included in these data are student demographics, academic achievement, transcript information, discipline, and period-level logs of attendance.