Since educators and researchers have long debated the best grade configuration grouping for middle-grade students, the current study examined school-level differences in reading and mathematics standardized test pass rates for students placed in middle schools compared with alternative grade configurations.
Latent growth modeling was conducted separately for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades across a 3-year sampling period. Sixth-grade pass rates were significantly higher in elementary schools (e.g., Kindergarten-7th grade) than in middle schools for reading (78.9 percent vs. 72.0 percent) and mathematics (82.5 percent vs. 76.3 percent). Seventh-grade pass rates in elementary schools were also significantly higher than in middle schools for reading (78.5 percent vs. 75.9 percent) and mathematics (83.1 percent vs. 69.2 percent). Eighth-grade pass rates were significantly higher in middle schools than in high schools (e.g., 8th-12th grade) for both subjects (74.7 percent vs. 70.0 percent for reading, 63.3 percent vs. 52.0 percent for mathematics). These findings suggest that students benefit from remaining in elementary school through at least 7th grade. 3 tables and 42 references (publisher abstract modified)