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The negative impacts of starting middle school in sixth grade

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:27:y:2008:i:1:p:104-121
    DOI: 10.1002/pam.20309
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/pam.20309
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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).
    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. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
    4. 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.
    5. 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).
    6. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2003:93:11:1830-1836_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Engberg, John & Gill, Brian & Zamarro, Gema & Zimmer, Ron, 2012. "Closing schools in a shrinking district: Do student outcomes depend on which schools are closed?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 189-203.
    4. 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.
    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.
    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. Yusef EMAN, 2013. "Managing the Transition Process of Students from Junior High-School to High-School," REVISTA DE MANAGEMENT COMPARAT INTERNATIONAL/REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL COMPARATIVE MANAGEMENT, Faculty of Management, Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 14(1), pages 71-85, March.

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