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K-8 Model May Hold Advantage Over Middle School, Study Suggests

Students who move from elementary to middle school may face an academic disadvantage compared with those who attend a K-8 school, according to an EdWeek story highlighting new research on the subject.

The study of New York City public schools, posted online today by the journal Education Next, also finds that the earlier students move to a middle school, the greater the academic gap between them and their K-8-attending peers, a gap that widens as the students age, the story says. In addition, the study finds that students who attend a stand-alone middle school tend to be absent more often.

Some states and large urban districts have begun to veer away from the middle school model toward embracing more K-8 schools, the study notes. In fact, I was recently in New Orleans for a story about how the effort is going to reinvent that city's public schools since Hurricane Katrina struck. And there, I noticed that a lot of the new public schools are configured as K-8 campuses.

The study's authors are Jonah E. Rockoff, an associate professor of business at the Columbia Graduate School of Business, and Benjamin B. Lockwood, a research coordinator at the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate at Columbia's business school.

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