Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Nori Mora


Public schools have used varying school configurations for middle grades-typically K-8 or traditional middle school arrangements-to improve students' academic outcomes. A small Northeastern school district was experiencing problems with student achievement, suspensions, and truancy, and was considering school configuration as a potential method of improving student performance. The purpose of this quantitative study was to explore the associations between school configuration and student achievement, suspensions, and truancy. Erikson's psychosocial theory of development and Dickinson's middle school philosophy guided this study since both address the needs of adolescents. Five years of archival data were collected from 2 demographically comparable Northeast school districts: one with K-8 schools and one with a traditional middle school configuration. Student sample sizes for each of the 5 years ranged from 1,841 to 2,076. Chi-square analyses for each year of data were used to examine the associations between configuration (elemiddle/middle) and the 4 independent variables: math achievement (proficient/not proficient), reading achievement (proficient/not proficient), suspensions (suspended/not suspended), and truancy (truant/not truant). Key results yielded statistically significant associations in certain years for each independent variable. The K-8 school students had higher achievement in math 3 of the 5 years and in reading for 2 of the 5 years. This group also had a lower percentage of truancy 4 of the 5 years, but a greater proportion of suspensions 4 of the 5 years. Results of this study can influence positive social change as district administrators can use the data to guide their decisions regarding which school configuration is most beneficial for middle school aged students.