Joyce Lutrey

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Ronald Williamson, EdD, Chair

Committee Member

Nelson Maylone EdD

Committee Member

Gary Marx EdD


The purpose of this research effort was to examine the impact of grade configuration on eighth grade student achievement in Math, Reading, and Writing. The quantitative research design used publicly available data and studied the 2000 through 2007 Arizona standards-based, eighth grade student test results across six grade configurations for all Arizona eighth grade students. Additional variables included student gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and charter versus public schools.

Chi-square testing showed there were student achievement differences in Math, Reading, and Writing across grade configuration, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and between charters and public schools. These differences were likely due to the study sample size and may not reflect performance differences that were attributable to the grade configuration alone. A comparison between variables was not possible because there was no measure of variability between schools in the study. Seventh through ninth and seventh through eighth grades configured schools had higher standards-based test scores than other grade configurations in thirty of the thirty-four chi square tests conducted. Females students outscored males in Reading and Writing, and males slightly outscored females in Math.

This research found statistically significant differences across grade configurations, but did not statistically conclude what the size differences were between the grade configurations studied due to the non-parametric nature of the data. What this research did provide was that real differences did exist across grade configurations and these differences are probably meaningful.

Further investigation is needed to definitively determine what factors led to those differences and whether or not these factors can be controlled. More quantitative research is needed comparing school settings with similar demographic data to determine the effectiveness of a particular grade configuration over another.


Additional committee member: Jaclynn Tracy PhD