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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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How Should We Organize Primary Schooling? Grade Span and Student Academic Performance

Leanna Stiefel, Wagner School and Institute for Education and Social Policy, New York University
Amy Ellen Schwartz , Institute for Education and Social Policy and Wagner School, New York University
(Ross Rubenstein, Syracuse University, co-author, not presenting)
(Jeffrey Zabel, Tufts University, co-author, not presenting)

Abstract: This poster presentation will summarize results on the relationship between the grade span organizations of elementary and middle schools and individual student performance on English and math assessments. The study exploits the natural variation found in the country's largest school district (New York City) and takes advantage of unique longitudinal data on students from first through eighth grades. The research is one of the first efforts to systematically identify and measure the effects of school grade span organization on student achievement in a large urban school district.

The poster will summarize results from the sparse existing literature on the topic, describe the way New York City schools are organized, present hypotheses and findings on correlates of various grade span organizations, identify the methodology used to identify causal relationships between grade span and student academic achievement and present illustrative results. Finally, the poster will describe the next steps in this project, which include:

  1. Paper on Effects of grade span on other school organizational features (enrollment, class size and classes per grade) as well as on school resources (expenditures and teacher characteristics).
  2. Further estimation of the relationship between school organization (especially grade span) and student academic achievement.