Title

The Relationship Between Grade Span Configuration and Students' Performance On the Mississippi Curriculum Test

Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

First Advisor

Thelma J. Roberson

Advisor Department

Educational Leadership and School Counseling

Abstract

The topic of this dissertation is a study of the relationship between grade span configuration and the academic achievement of third, fifth, and eighth grade students in Mississippi public schools. The study examined the relationship between the independent variable of grade span configuration and the dependent variable of student academic achievement when the co-variables of socioeconomic status, gender, and ethnicity were held constant. Reading, language, and mathematics scale scores of 105,640 Mississippi public school students--35,425 third graders, 35,445 fifth graders, and 34,770 eighth graders who took the MCT in spring 2004 were examined in this study. The study also examined the responses provided by 211 (34 percent) of the 625 Mississippi public school principals who were asked to complete a 12-item Online Principals' Questionnaire that was designed to determine their perceptions of the relationship between grade span configuration and student academic achievement. The study revealed that there were statistically significant differences across a majority of the grade spans examined in the reading, language, and mathematics achievement of third, fifth, and eighth grade students, and it also showed that a majority of the principals shared the opinion that grade span configuration impacts student academic achievement in a positive way. Significant findings were that: (1) third and fifth grade students posted the highest reading, language, and mathematics scale scores when they attended schools where grades 3 and 5 were the exit or highest grades in a grade span configuration, and they posted the second highest reading, language, and mathematics scale scores when they attended schools where grades 3 and 5 were the entry or lowest grades in a grade span configuration; (2) eighth grade students posted the highest reading, language, and mathematics scale scores when they attended schools where grade 8 was the entry grade, and they posted the second highest reading, language, and mathematics scale scores when they attended schools where grade 8 was the exit grade; (3) third, fifth, and eighth grade students posted the highest reading, language, and mathematics scale scores when they attended broadly configured schools that housed 9 to 12 grade levels, and they posted the second highest reading, language, and mathematics scores when they attended narrowly configured schools that housed 1 to 4 grade levels.