Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Walter L. Burt

Second Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer

Third Advisor

Dr. Kelley A. Peatross


Building configuration, K-8 Schools, Middle Schools, Achievement, demographic variables, Midwestern school districts


This study examined the influence of building configuration on the academic achievement and attendance of students who were considered chronically absent. A longitudinal nonequivalent groups research design was used to test the study’s six hypotheses. Data were collected from over 10,000 students within 38 K-8 schools and 40 6-8 middle schools in 24 urban school districts. These districts belonged to the Middle Cities Education Association (MCEA) in a Midwestern state. Student achievement data were collected from this state’s Department of Education’s Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI) database that focused specifically on 6th (2009) and 8th-grade (2011) achievement and attendance results.

Data were analyzed using an independent samples t-test to measure the differences in mean scores of the two groups, and a one-way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) to determine the intervening effects of the covariates on various demographic characteristics. Findings in this study indicate that there were no significant improvements in mathematics, reading, and chronically absent attendance rates for students who attended K-8 configured schools as compared to their corresponding peers attending 6-8 middle schools. This held true when adjusting for race, gender, Free and/or Reduced Lunch status, and students with disabilities.

This study helps fill a void in the current body of literature by examining the influence of grade configuration (i.e., K-8 schools versus traditional 6-8 middle schools) on student achievement and attendance, and whether selected demographic variables (e.g., race, gender, Free and/or Reduced Lunch status, and students with disabilities) had an influence on these differences. The study concludes with several recommendations for further study.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access