Sunday, January 6, 2013

Articles in regards to transition and case studies on grade level configurations

  • How do grade configurations affect transitions?
    The division of elementary schools into configurations that include fewer grades requires that students make several transitions from one school to another. Researchers note that transitions can be stressful for students:
    Alspaugh (1999) found a significant achievement loss during each transition year. He also found that some students regain what is lost in the following year, but it would seem that students who make fewer transitions need fewer years to make up for achievement losses caused by transitions.
    Another study found that each time students switched schools, their feelings of anonymity increased. Researchers who found that sixth-grade students in both elementary and combination K-12 schools outperformed students in middle schools or junior high schools considered the number of transitions a significant factor. This study considered 8 schools with 7 different grade spans with student populations of 82 to 1,200. The schools were located in both urban and rural settings in 5 northwest states. The number of grades in the schools ranged from 1 to 11 (Paglin & Fager, 1997).
    Another research study found that girls in early adolescence suffered from a drop in self-esteem, extracurricular participation, and leadership behaviors when they made the transition into middle school or junior high, but not if they remained in an elementary school setting. This study found that the effects of this transition lingered throughout the school years. For boys, the study found similar negative effects in extracurricular participation and grades, but not in self-esteem, when they made the transition into middle school or junior high. The authors concluded that the relatively protected elementary school setting made the entry into adolescence less stressful for both boys and girls. The students who had not had the stress of the earlier transition seemed to cope better with the transition into high school than did other students (Simmons & Blyth, 1987).
    Franklin and Glascock (1996) found that sixth-grade boys experienced more suspensions in middle schools or junior high schools than in elementary schools, possibly related to the effects of the transition, the school organization, or school size. This study was based on information gathered from all Louisiana public schools during the 1992-1993 school year.
  • Alspaugh, John W. (1999). The interaction effect of transition grade to high school with gender and grade level upon dropout rates. Montreal: American Educational Research Association. (ERIC Document No.ED431066)
    Bickel, Robert; Howley, Craig; Williams, Tony; & Glascock, Catherine. (2000, November). Will the real "Texas miracle in education" please stand up? Grade span configuration, achievement, and expenditure per pupil. Randolph, VT: Rural School and Community Trust. (ERIC Document No. ED447995)
    Franklin, Bobby J., & Glascock, Catherine H. (1996, October). The relationship between grade configuration and student performance in rural schools. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the National Rural Education Association, San Antonio, TX. (ERIC Document No. ED403083)
    Hopkins, Gary. (1997, September . Grade configuration: Who goes where? Education World [Online]. Available:
    Howley, Craig. (2002, March). Grade-span configurations. American Association of School Administrators [Online].Available:
    Lounsbury, John H. (1996). Key characteristics of middle level schools [Online]. ERIC Digest. Champaign, IL.
    ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. (ERIC Document No. ED401050). Available:
    National Center for Education Statistics. (2002). Directory of public elementary and secondary education agencies, 2000-2001 [Online]. Available:
    Paglin, Catherine, & Fager, Jennifer. (1997, July). Grade configuration: Who goes where [Online]. Available:
    Editor's Note: this url is no longer active.
    Reents, Jennifer Newton. (2002, March). Isolating 9th graders. School Administrator[Online]. Available:
    Editor's Note: this url is no longer active.
    Simmons, Roberta G., & Blyth, Dale A. (1987). Moving into adolescence: The impact of pubertal change and school context. Hawthorne, NY: de Gruyter.
    Web Resources
    Should Sixth Grade Be in Elementary or Middle School? An Analysis of Grade Configuration and Student Behavior (2007)
    The Academic Effectiveness of Small-Scale Schooling (An Update)

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