Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

John W. Hill

Second Advisor

Kay A. Keiser

Third Advisor

Neal F. Grandgenett


The grade level at which an adolescent started middle school, 5th-grade (n = 40) or 7th-grade (n = 40) did not statistically significantly impact 8th-grade students' achievement, behavior or high school preparedness in this study. Regardless of middle school start points all 8th-grade students performed within the fourth to sixth stanines on a national norm-referenced test, solidly within the average range with mean core grade point averages ranging from a C+ (2.53) to a B (3.11). However, consistent with national findings all middle school start point groups demonstrated statistically significant declines in normal curve equivalences between pretest 5th-grade to posttest 8th-grade on national norm-reference measures. Statistically significant pretest-posttest increases in the total days absent from 4th-grade to 8th-grade were observed with the highest ranges representing economically disadvantaged students. Patterns of statistically significant difference emerged repeatedly in the comparison of low and high socioeconomic groups regardless of middle school start point. Middle schools must be given the autonomy and societal support to transform from within, understanding that curriculum novelty and uniqueness must be buttressed by clear consistent adult rules and nurturance if we are to ever have a truly effective middle school philosophy.


Department formerly called Educational Administration and Supervision.

A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Education In Educational Administration.

Copyright 2009 Elizabeth W. Standish