The impact of the Texas Grow! Eat! Go! (tTGEG) garden and physical activity school-based interventions and connectedness on attendance in Texas schools

Christine Jovanovic, The University of Texas School of Public Health


As pressure to perform on standardized tests has increased, some schools have begun to prioritize instructional time over other considerations, including student health. However, this focus on academics can be counter-productive, reducing children’s physical and mental health to the point that they are unable to learn. In response, there are many school-based, health-focused interventions, such as the Texas Grow! Eat! Go! (TGEG) program, which hold promise for rebalancing educational priorities and student health. One of the most critical metrics for student success and school funding is attendance. Literature supports a robust connection between regular attendance, academic success and school completion. A promising mechanism for this relationship is school connectedness, an indication of students’ engagement in school. This thesis is an attempt to define and support the connection between the TGEG intervention and attendance rates, using school connectedness as a promising mediator of this relationship. Attendance rates were obtained from each of the 7 school districts that participated in the TGEG intervention, a random controlled trail with four treatment arms that was conducted in 7 school districts in a variety of Texas locations. Change in attendance was computed as the delta over the year before to the year after TGEG was implemented. Utilizing TGEG survey data, measures of connectedness were computed using the mean responses of 4 questions. A consistent trend between TGEG implementation and increased changed in attendance measures was observed, although this relationship was not statistically significant. In addition, regression analysis, stratified by treatment and adjusted for ethnicity and economic disadvantage, showed that the two intervention arms which included the Junior Master Gardener program had the greatest positive impact on change in attendance. Finally, our analysis found no evidence of connectedness as a moderator or confounder of the relationship. While the positive trend observed between TGEG and change in attendance is promising, increasing the sample size and achieving significant results will greatly enhance the utility of these findings and the likelihood that this connection will improve the willingness of schools to adopt and support important curricular enhancements such as TGEG.

Subject Area

Education Policy|Elementary education|Public health

Recommended Citation

Jovanovic, Christine, "The impact of the Texas Grow! Eat! Go! (tTGEG) garden and physical activity school-based interventions and connectedness on attendance in Texas schools" (2016). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10131756.