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Last modified: 7/17/2014 2:03:28 PM
Research and Evaluation

Analysis of Grade 6 Student Success: Variation by School Grade Configuration

 Akilah D. Swinton, Ph.D. & Kola K. Sunmonu, Ph.D.


The purpose of this research study was to examine: (1) whether the success of sixth graders in PGCPS varies by the grade configuration of the school they attend; and (2) how students’ achievement throughout the middle school years differs by the timing of students’ middle school transition. Series of two-level hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) were conducted to examine whether sixth grade student achievement and engagement varied by school grade configuration using data drawn from three cohorts (SY11 through SY13) of sixth graders. To examine whether students’ reading achievement gains during the middle grade years differ by the timing, if any, of transition, we conducted two repeated measures Multivariate Analyses of Variance (MANOVA) using data from SY10 and SY11 sixth grade cohorts.  The results from the HLM analyses suggest that sixth graders in PGCPS are more successful in 6-8 schools compared to K-6 schools in regard to absenteeism and math proficiency. The results also indicate that the K-8 school environment is particularly more supportive of high achieving sixth graders as these students generally had higher likelihoods of having positive achievement and engagement when compared to high achieving sixth grade students in K-6 schools. Findings from the MANOVAs reveal that transitions have a negative impact on reading achievement gains, regardless of when they happen. Though students who transitioned experienced a rebound in the immediate post-transition year, the rebound is not large enough to make up the ground lost relative to students who did not transition. The students who did not transition (students in K-8 schools) had the most consistent gain in achievement throughout the middle school years and had higher reading achievement.  Implications and recommendations for future research to better understand factors that contribute to student success during the middle grade years regardless of the grade configuration of the school attended were discussed.

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