Date of Award

Fall 12-2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership and Research

Committee Chair

Dr. Ronald Styron

Committee Member 2

Dr. Portia Hull

Committee Member 3

Dr. David E. Lee

Committee Member 4

Dr. James T. Johnson

Abstract

Ninth grade is a complicated time period in the school years of young adolescents, They face many social, emotional, physical, and academic issues during the transition from eighth grade to the freshman year. In some cases, these problems in ninth grade lead to increased dropout rate. This matter is addressed in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). School districts across the country are establishing programs to deal with this dilemma of students transitioning from the middle grades to high school. One such program is the ninth grade school or academy. The general purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of ninth grade schools. The study focused on student achievement in ninth grade schools or academies compared to ninth grade students enrolled in traditional high schools housing grades nine through 12. Student achievement, for this study, was assessed by the students’ scores on the Mississippi Subject Area Testing Program (SAPT) in Algebra I and Biology I for the 2005-2006 school year. Other variables tested were gender and ethnicity of the students used in this study. All students used in this study were enrolled in the ninth grade during the 2005-2006 school year at one of the six schools selected for this research. Three of the schools were ninth grade schools or academies and the other three were traditional high schools. The students were enrolled in Algebra I and/or Biology I course(s) and therefore took the Subject Area Test for the respective course(s). Students at the ninth grade schools were compared to students at the traditional high schools based on SAPT scores, gender, and ethnicity. In this study, there was a significant difference in Algebra I scores on the SAPT between students attending ninth grade schools or academies when compared to students attending traditional high schools. Students in the ninth grade schools scored significantly higher on the Algebra I test. There was also a significant difference in Biology I scores on the SAPT between students attending ninth grade schools or academies when compared to students attending traditional high schools. Students in the ninth grade schools scored significantly higher on the Biology I test. Further analyzed data revealed significant differences, based on ethnicity, in achievement of Biology I students in the ninth grade academies when compared to the Biology I students in the traditional high schools. The African American students in the ninth grade academies had a higher mean score on the Biology I SAPT than Caucasian and African American students enrolled in the traditional high schools. Additionally, the Caucasian students in the ninth grade academies scored only .03 higher than the mean score of African American students in the ninth grade academies.