Can Reorganizing K-8 Education Improve Academic Performance? The Impact of Grade Span on Student Achievement
42 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2010
Date Written: Fall 2009
Although rearranging school organizational features is a perennially popular method of school reform, no consensus exists regarding the best organizational structure for educating students. Instead, there is wide variation in school organization across the United States and even within school districts. This paper examines how student performance in eighth grade is shaped by the grade span configuration. Exploiting the variation in New York City, we estimate the impact of several distinct grade span configurations, controlling for school and student characteristics including third grade performance. We find that students in schools with longer grade spans (K-8 schools particularly) outperform students in schools with shorter grade spans. Thus, creating more K-8 schools and minimizing structural articulations in the K-8 years may improve student performance.
Keywords: School reform, grade span, mobility, student achievement
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