The Difference between Grade Span Configuration and Student Achievement in Four Eastern States
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The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 was established to improve student achievement among all public schools. This federal legislation sets a proficiency goal of 100% for all students by the 2013-14 school year. Each state is required to provide parents and others interested in the public schools with information about school, district, and state-level data in a number of areas. The United States Department of Education requires that each state's report card include information pertaining to assessment data, accountability, and teacher quality. The state has an option to include other information such as: school attendance rate, average class size in each grade, and incidences of school violence, drug abuse, student suspensions, and student expulsions. The purpose of this quantitative research study was to determine if there was a difference between grade span configuration with respect to achievement scores of eighth grade students in four eastern states who attended 6-8 public middle schools and those who attended K-8 public schools, as evidenced by their state's 2009-2010 achievement data. The data from the four eastern states was obtained from each state's Department of Education and includes public schools that are configured with a K-8 or 6-8 model. The population in the quantitative study was one thousand one hundred and fifty-eight public schools from Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, and North Carolina. This included 144 K-8 schools and 1,014 middle schools. The overriding research questions were: (1) what is the difference, if any, in English and mathematics pass rates on the Standards of Learning in Virginia for school with different grade span configurations? , (2) what is the difference, if any, in English and mathematics pass rates on the Maryland School Assessment in Maryland for schools with different grade span configurations? , (3) what is the difference, if any, in English and mathematics pass on the Palmetto-Assessment of State Standards in South Carolina for schools with different grade span configurations?, (4) what is the difference, if any, in English and mathematics pass rates on the ABC's End-of-Course tests in North Carolina for schools with different grade span configurations?, (5) if differences do exist in English and mathematics pass rates for schools with different grade span configurations, are the results consistent in all four states? Eight t-tests were conducted to examine academic performance of eighth grade students in K-8 and 6-8 schools with a pre-determined alpha of .05. The results indicated mixed findings. Results from Virginia and South Carolina revealed that there was no significant difference in the pass rates between K-8 and 6-8 schools in English and mathematics. In North Carolina there was a significant difference in the pass rates, with K-8 schools obtaining a higher pass rate in both English and mathematics. Outcomes from Maryland disclosed that there was a significant difference between K-8 and middle schools, with middle schools obtaining a higher pass rate in both English and mathematics.
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