A Comparison of Sixth-, Seventh-, and Eighth-Grade Student Outcomes in Schools Configured K-8 Elementary Versus 6-8 Middle Schools as Measured by State Standardized Tests, Student Discipline Referrals, and Student Attendance
The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students' outcomes in relation to school configuration, specifically K-8 elementary schools as compared to 6-8 middle schools. Student outcomes focused on in this study were standardized test scores, number of out-of-school suspensions, and number of days absent. Race and gender served as moderator variables for all research questions. Quantitative data were obtained from a large central Florida school district and included 2016 Florida Standards Assessment scale scores in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Algebra 1 End-of-Course Examinations, 2015 Florida Standards Assessment scale scores in English Language Arts and Mathematics for students in Grade 8 during the 2015-2016 academic year, 2013 and 2014 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests 2.0 Reading and Mathematics developmental scale scores for students in Grade 8 during the 2015-2016 academic year, number of out-of-school suspensions, and number of days absent by student for the 2015-2016 academic year. The data were analyzed via two-way analysis of variances to determine if statistically significant differences existed in student outcomes based on school configuration. The literature review supported the need to align the educational environment with student development in order to maximize student outcomes. In the quest to accomplish this, many districts have employed a number of school configurations, including the K-8 elementary school configuration and 6-8 middle school configuration to best meet the unique needs of early adolescents. The large central Florida school district selected for this study was unique in that it employed both the K-8 elementary school and 6-8 middle school configurations to serve students in Grades 6 through 8. As can be seen by results of this study, school configuration, either alone or in conjunction with one of the moderator variables, was indicated in differences in Grades 6 and 7 FSA ELA scale scores, Grades 6 and 7 FSA Mathematics scale scores, Grades 7 and 8 FSA Algebra 1 EOC Examination scale scores, FCAT 2.0 Reading growth, Grades 6, 7, and 8 number of OSS by student, and Grade 7 number of days absent by student. One of the most noteworthy findings of this study was differences in FSA ELA, Mathematics, and Algebra 1 EOC scale scores due to the interaction of school configuration and race. In general, students classified as Black had better FSA outcomes when attending schools of the 6-8 middle school configuration. In contrast, students classified as White or Other had better FSA outcomes when attending schools of the K-8 elementary school configuration. Such findings indicated that the K-8 elementary school configuration may be only a part of the puzzle when considering how to best educate students in the early adolescent developmental period.
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
College of Education and Human Performance
Teaching, Learning, and Leadership
Educational Leadership; Executive Track
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Kelce, Jessica, "A Comparison of Sixth-, Seventh-, and Eighth-Grade Student Outcomes in Schools Configured K-8 Elementary Versus 6-8 Middle Schools as Measured by State Standardized Tests, Student Discipline Referrals, and Student Attendance" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5523.