A comparison study of Montana's intermediate and K-8 schools with regard to student performance on a criterion referenced test, incidence of at-risk behaviors, and perceptions of educators from both grade configurations.
Within the last ten years, middle schools have been criticized for focusing too much on social development while ignoring academics. Several large school districts around the country are transforming their middle schools into K-8 schools. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to compare K-8 schools with intermediate schools in the State of Montana. Quantitative research examined the relationship between school grade configuration and student performance on a criterion referenced test. Descriptive analysis examined the relationship between school grade configuration and incidence of at-risk behavior among students. Additional data was collected through 1-1 comparison interviews with educators from both grade configurations.
A factorial ANOVA was used to compare student performance on the CRT. Test data from 2005 included 11,690 students attending 58 K-8, 156 elemiddle, and 57 intermediate schools. Interacting variables of school size and socioeconomic status were also analyzed. Summary results found that there were a limited number of important and consistent differences among the means of the various sub-groups. The majority of the differences were related to size and socioeconomic status.
To compare incidence of at-risk behavior among students attending K-8 and intermediate schools, results from the 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey were examined. The sample included 1,971 students attending 11 intermediate schools and 13 K-8 schools. Interacting variables of school size and socioeconomic status were also considered. Summary results found that there were a limited number of YRBS differences between K-8 and intermediate schools. Important differences were found among non-school related behaviors.
To compare the perception of educators working in K-8 and intermediate schools, 1-1 comparison interviews were conducted with 22 professionals. Interview results showed similar responses for barriers to success and characteristics of successful students. Overall, educators agreed on advantages and disadvantages for both configurations.
Findings suggest that students attending K-8 and intermediate schools are more similar than different. From these results it would be erroneous to recommend one grade configuration over another.
Advisor:John Matt; Mrtlr Gsttirt; William McCaw; John Lundt; David Aronofsky
School:The University of Montana
School Location:USA - Montana
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:school of education
Date of Publication:04/20/2009