A comparison of achievement in K–8 schools and 6–8 schools

Marcia G Melton, Tennessee State University


This study examined the effects of school configuration on student achievement and student opinion. Small public school districts in Tennessee containing K-8 or 6-8 schools were compared using proficient and advanced percentages and TVAAS gains in reading/language arts and math. Comparisons were also made using the ACT/EXPLORE assessment given to all eighth grade students in Tennessee. A student opinion survey was used in a smaller sample of eighth grade students to compare how students evaluated their schools in four areas: Quality of the Instructional Program, Support for Student Learning, School Climate/Environment for Learning, and Student/School Relationships. The Tennessee Department of Education Report Card and TVAAS website was used to retrieve data from eighteen school districts with total student populations of 1,000 to 2,500 containing at least one school representing the K-8 or 6-8 school configuration. Twenty-four K-8 schools and eleven 6-8 schools were identified. Student surveys were given to a smaller sample of eighth grade students during their second semester of school based on school configuration attended. One-hundred six K-8 and one-hundred fifty-six 6-8 eighth grade students participated in the survey. Data for each group were compared for statistically significant differences by unpaired t-tests using StatView software. The results revealed no statistically significant difference when comparing grade configuration as it related to reading/language arts and math for AYP percentages of proficient and advanced or TVAAS gains. When school configurations were compared using the ACT/EXPLORE gains on the composite scores of eighth grade students, a statistically significant difference was found in favor of the K-8 configuration supporting the research of others. Each content area of the ACT/EXPLORE assessment was also analyzed and revealed statistically significant differences in English, reading, and science reasoning, but not math. Analysis of survey data for eighth grade students revealed a statistically significant difference in student opinion based on grade configuration in favor of K-8 schools in all four areas of the survey.

Subject Area

Middle School education|School administration|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Marcia G Melton, "A comparison of achievement in K–8 schools and 6–8 schools" (2010). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3423699.