Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education



First Advisor

M. Shane Tutwiler


This study seeks to determine the relationship that exists between the average level of teachers’ perceived sense of agency in a given school and the achievement of that school’s students, with average levels of student engagement as a possible mediating variable. The research questions are: RQ1 - Do schools with higher contextual and relational support of teacher agency (SUP) have higher student achievement (ACH), and RQ2 - does student engagement (ENG) mediate the effects of contextual and relational support of teacher agency on student achievement. To answer these questions, survey data were collected from over 63,000 students and 10,000 educators in 231 public elementary and middle schools in 52 districts in Rhode Island. An exploratory factor analysis was first conducted to establish validity and reliability of the constructs of student engagement and contextual and relational support of teacher agency. Mediation analysis was then used to explore the relationship between these two constructs and student achievement. The results showed that the average contextual and relational support of teacher agency at the school-level is strongly and positively related to students’ math and English language arts achievement. The school’s average student engagement mediates this effect. This mediation effect is particularly strong in mathematics achievement. Implications for policy and practice as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.



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