Can Reorganizing K-8 Education Improve Academic Performance? The Impact of Grade Span on Student Achievement

42 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2010

See all articles by Amy Ellen Schwartz

Amy Ellen Schwartz

Syracuse University - Center for Policy Research; New York University (NYU) - Institute for Education and Social Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Leanna Stiefel

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Ross Rubenstein

Syracuse University - Center for Policy Research

Jeffrey E. Zabel

Tufts University - Department of Economics

Date Written: Fall 2009

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Schwartz, Amy Ellen and Stiefel, Leanna and Rubenstein, Ross and Zabel, Jeffrey E., Can Reorganizing K-8 Education Improve Academic Performance? The Impact of Grade Span on Student Achievement (Fall 2009). NYU Wagner Research Paper No. 2010-06, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1532342 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1532342

Amy Ellen Schwartz (Contact Author)

Syracuse University - Center for Policy Research ( email )

Syracuse, NY 13244
United States

New York University (NYU) - Institute for Education and Social Policy ( email )

United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Leanna Stiefel

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service ( email )

Public and Nonprofit Management and the Policy Pro
4 Washington Square North
New York, NY 10003
United States

Ross Rubenstein

Syracuse University - Center for Policy Research ( email )

Syracuse, NY 13244
United States

Jeffrey E. Zabel

Tufts University - Department of Economics ( email )

Medford, MA 02155
United States
617-627-2318 (Phone)
617-627-3917 (Fax)

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