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Are Middle Schools More Effective?: The Impact of School Structure on Student Outcomes

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  • Kelly Bedard
  • Chau Do

Abstract

While nearly half of all school districts have adopted middle schools, there is little quantitative evidence of the efficacy of this educational structure. We estimate the impact of moving from a junior high school system, where students stay in elementary school longer, to a middle school system for on-time high school completion. This is a particularly good outcome measure because middle school advocates argued that this new system would be especially helpful for lower achieving students. In contrast to the stated objective, we find that moving to a middle school system decreases on-time high school completion by approximately 1–3 percent.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:40:y:2005:i:2:p660-682
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    2. Laura M. Argys & Daniel I. Rees & Dominic J. Brewer, 1996. "Detracking America's schools: Equity at zero cost?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 623-645.
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    Cited by:

    1. De Simone, Gianfranco, 2013. "Render unto primary the things which are primary's: Inherited and fresh learning divides in Italian lower secondary education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 12-23.
    2. Ferman, Bruno & Pinto, Cristine, 2015. "Inference in Differences-in-Differences with Few Treated Groups and Heteroskedasticity," MPRA Paper 67665, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Ofer Malamud, 2010. "The Structure of European Higher Education in the Wake of the Bologna Reforms," NBER Chapters,in: American Universities in a Global Market, pages 205-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Richard J. Murnane, 2013. "U.S. High School Graduation Rates: Patterns and Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 370-422, June.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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., vol. 27(1), pages 104-121.
    8. Schwerdt, Guido & West, Martin R., 2013. "The impact of alternative grade configurations on student outcomes through middle and high school," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 308-326.
    9. Timothy J. Halliday & Sally Kwak, 2007. "Bad Apples, Goody Two Shoes and Average Joes: The Role of Peer Group Definitions in Estimation of Peer Effects," Working Papers 200730, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
    10. Zeng, Di & Thomsen, Michael R. & Nayga, Rodolfo M. & Rouse, Heather L., 2016. "Middle school transition and body weight outcomes: Evidence from Arkansas Public Schoolchildren," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 64-74.
    11. Philip J. Cook & Robert MacCoun & Clara Muschkin & Jacob Vigdor, 2006. "Should Sixth Grade be in Elementary or Middle School? An Analysis of Grade Configuration and Student Behavior," NBER Working Papers 12471, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. 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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