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The negative impacts of starting middle school in sixth grade

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Author Info

  • Philip J. Cook

    (Duke University)

  • Robert MacCoun

    (Duke University)

  • Clara Muschkin

    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Jacob Vigdor

    (Duke University)

Abstract

Using administrative data on public school students in North Carolina, we find that sixth grade students attending middle schools are much more likely to be cited for discipline problems than those attending elementary school. That difference remains after adjusting for the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the students and their schools. Furthermore, the higher infraction rates recorded by sixth graders who are placed in middle school persist at least through ninth grade. An analysis of end-of-grade test scores provides complementary findings. A plausible explanation is that sixth graders are at an especially impressionable age; in middle school, the exposure to older peers and the relative freedom from supervision have deleterious consequences. These findings are relevant to the current debate over the best school configuration for incorporating the middle grades. Based on our results, we suggest that there is a strong argument for separating sixth graders from older adolescents. © 2008 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/pam.20309
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 27 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 104-121

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:27:y:2008:i:1:p:104-121

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Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/34787/home

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  1. Kelly Bedard & Chau Do, 2005. "Are Middle Schools More Effective?: The Impact of School Structure on Student Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
  2. Charles T. Clotfelter & Helen F. Ladd & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2006. "Teacher-Student Matching and the Assessment of Teacher Effectiveness," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
  3. Crump, Richard K. & Hotz, V. Joseph & Imbens, Guido W. & Mitnik, Oscar A., 2006. "Moving the Goalposts: Addressing Limited Overlap in Estimation of Average Treatment Effects by Changing the Estimand," IZA Discussion Papers 2347, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Richard K. Crump & V. Joseph Hotz & Guido W. Imbens & Oscar A. Mitnik, 2006. "Moving the Goalposts: Addressing Limited Overlap in the Estimation of Average Treatment Effects by Changing the Estimand," NBER Technical Working Papers 0330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. repec:att:wimass:9127 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Hanushek, Eric A. & Kain, John F. & Rivkin, Steven G., 2004. "Disruption versus Tiebout improvement: the costs and benefits of switching schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1721-1746, August.
  7. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
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Cited by:
  1. John Engberg & Brian Gill & Gema Zamarro & Ron Zimmer, 2011. "Closing Schools in a Shrinking District: Do Student Outcomes Depend on Which Schools are Closed?," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 7164, Mathematica Policy Research.
  2. Cratty, Dorothyjean, 2012. "Potential for significant reductions in dropout rates: Analysis of an entire 3rd grade state cohort," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 644-662.
  3. Guido Schwerdt & Martin R. West, 2011. "The Impact of Alternative Grade Configurations on Student Outcomes through Middle and High School," CESifo Working Paper Series 3530, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Rockoff, Jonah E. & Lockwood, Benjamin B., 2010. "Stuck in the middle: Impacts of grade configuration in public schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1051-1061, December.
  5. Asirvatham, Jebaraj & Nayga, Rodolfo M., Jr. & Thomsen, Michael R., 2012. "Peer-Effects In Obesity Among Public School Children: A Grade-Level Analysis," 2012 AAEA/EAAE Food Environment Symposium, May 30-31, Boston, MA 122732, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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