DIFFERENCES IN ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT BY GRADE SPAN CONFIGURATION: A TEXAS STATEWIDE STUDY
Fiaschetti, Carolyn F
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Purpose The purpose of this journal-ready dissertation was to examine the extent to which grade span configuration was related to the academic achievement of students in Grades 5 and 6. Specifically, the academic achievement of students in poverty, boys and girls, and students of three ethnic/racial groups (i.e., White, Black, and Hispanic) were examined. Specifically analyzed in these three investigations were the reading and mathematics achievement of these groups of students according to the grade span configuration of their school. The two grade span categories that were compared were a single or double grade level school (i.e., Grade 4-5, 5 only, or 5-6) and a multiple grade level school (i.e., PreK-Grade 6). Each of these three empirical investigations included three years of statewide public school data analyzed. This 3-year analysis of data permitted a determination of the extent to which trends were present in the relationship of grade span configuration with academic achievement of students in Grade 5 and 6 enrolled in Texas public schools. Method A causal-comparative research design was used for this study. Archival data were obtained from the Texas Education Agency for three school years (i.e., 2012-2013, 2013-2014, and 2014-2015). Specific information obtained for Grade 5 and 6 students in Texas was: State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness Reading and Mathematics passing rates; grade span configuration; economic status; and ethnic/racial status. Student passing rates were analyzed as a function of grade span configuration by poverty, gender, and ethnic/racial status for Grade 5 and 6 students in Texas. Findings Statistically significant results were present for all reading analyses, with multi-grade level grade span configurations having statistically higher passing rates than single/double grade span configurations, and for all but two mathematics passing rates analyses. Higher passing rates were present for students in multi-grade level schools than their peers in single/double grade level schools. Results from this study were congruent with much of the recent empirical literature in that student academic performance is better in settings that have more grade levels than in settings with fewer grade levels. Implications for policy and recommendations for research were provided.