Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Tamara J. Williams


The purpose of this two-group descriptive efficacy study was to explore the relationship between school configuration and academic and non-academic outcomes of sixth grade elementary students compared to academic and non-academic outcomes of sixth grade middle school students. The independent variable is the school configuration. Group 1 includes sixth grade students who attended school in an elementary school configuration (n=619). Group 2 includes sixth grade students who attend school in a middle school configuration (n=811). There were six dependent variables for this study that fell into two specific themes: academic (reading and mathematics achievement) and non-academic (number of days absent from school, number of days suspended out-of-school, Student Engagement, and Student Climate Survey data responses). Academic achievement was defined by scaled scores on the Nebraska State Assessments (NeSA) for Reading and Mathematics. Absence frequency was a ratio level variable that referred to the number of days a student was absent from school. Suspension data was also reported as a ratio level variable that indicates the number of out-of-school suspension days a student received during the 2015-2016 school year. Both Engagement and Climate data included Likert response scores to the research school district’s Student Engagement and Climate Survey. Inferential analysis of student data revealed significant differences for Reading and Math academic outcomes, with higher scores for students attending sixth grade in a middle school configuration. There was no significant difference in the non-academic outcomes of attendance, suspension and engagement. There was a significant difference on the non-academic outcome of climate, with sixth grade students in an elementary configuration reporting a more favorable school environment. This study may offer insights into other variables associated with student outcomes. Recommendations for further study to address differentiating grade configuration by other factors is suggested.


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. Copyright 2017 Anne M. MacFarland.

Included in

Education Commons