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The Impact of Alternative Grade Configurations on Student Outcomes through Middle and High School

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  • Guido Schwerdt
  • Martin R. West

Abstract

We use statewide administrative data from Florida to estimate the impact of attending public schools with different grade configurations on student achievement through grade 10. To identify the causal effect of structural school transitions, we use student fixed effects and instrument for middle and high school attendance based on the terminal grade of the school attended in grades 3 and 6, respectively. Consistent with recent evidence from other settings, we find that students moving from elementary to middle school in grade 6 or 7 suffer a sharp drop in student achievement in the transition year. We confirm that these achievement drops occur in nonurban areas and persist through grade 10, by which time most students have transitioned into high school. We also find that middle school entry increases student absences and is associated with higher grade 10 dropout rates. Transitions to high school in grade nine cause a smaller one-time drop in achievement but do not alter students’ performance trajectories.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3530.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3530

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Keywords: educational production; public schools; grade configuration; middle schools; high schools;

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References

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  1. Hanushek, Eric A. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2010. "The Economics of International Differences in Educational Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 4925, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin, 2010. "Generalizations about Using Value-Added Measures of Teacher Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 267-71, May.
  4. Lisa Sanbonmatsu & Jeffrey R. Kling & Greg J. Duncan & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, 2006. "Neighborhoods and Academic Achievement: Results from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
  5. Rockoff, Jonah E. & Lockwood, Benjamin B., 2010. "Stuck in the middle: Impacts of grade configuration in public schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1051-1061, December.
  6. Philip J. Cook & Robert MacCoun & Clara Muschkin & Jacob Vigdor, 2008. "The negative impacts of starting middle school in sixth grade," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(1), pages 104-121.
  7. Cecilia Elena Rouse & Jane Hannaway & Dan Goldhaber & David Figlio, 2013. "Feeling the Florida Heat? How Low-Performing Schools Respond to Voucher and Accountability Pressure," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 251-81, May.
  8. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "Neighborhood Effects on Crime for Female and Male Youth: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 120(1), pages 87-130, January.
  9. Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "Do dropouts drop out too soon? Wealth, health and happiness from compulsory schooling," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2213-2229, December.
  10. Tim R. Sass, 2006. "Charter Schools and Student Achievement in Florida," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 91-122, January.
  11. 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).
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Cited by:
  1. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00842265 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Goodman, Joshua, 2012. "Gold Standards?: State Standards Reform and Student Achievement," Working Paper Series, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government rwp12-031, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Schwerdt, Guido & West, Martin R., 2013. "The Effects of Test-based Retention on Student Outcomes over Time: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Florida," IZA Discussion Papers 7314, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Richard J. Murnane, 2013. "U.S High School Graduation Rates: Patterns and Explanations," NBER Working Papers 18701, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Son Thierry Ly & Arnaud Riegert, 2013. "Persistent Classmates: How Familiarity with Peers Protects from Disruptive School Transitions," PSE Working Papers, HAL halshs-00842265, HAL.

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