Grade Configurations and Student Test Performance: Evidence from Recent National Data
57 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2018
Date Written: February 6, 2018
What grade configuration is best for student performance is an important question in education policy. Research to date typically suggests that school districts should minimize structural school switching to maximize achievement. I use recent national data to bring new evidence to bear on this question. First, I identify the by-grade effects of school termination on test scores using within-district variation in student performance and school terminal grades. However, I argue that this strategy can only identify the proximate effects of grade configuration, and that we must use alternative models to calculate the policy-relevant total effects. To this end, I apply a matching estimator to provide evidence on the total effect of district school terminal grade use on student achievement growth from grades 3 through 8. School transitions appear to be harmful on net.
Keywords: School reform, grade span, grade configuration, student achievement
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