Title

THE EFFECT OF SINGLE-GRADE AND MULTI-GRADE PRIMARY SCHOOL CLASSROOMS ON READING ACHIEVEMENT OF CHILDREN

Date of Completion

January 1981

Keywords

Education, Administration

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

The debate surrounding the advantages of certain vertical and horizontal organizational patterns of elementary schools is not new. Determination of whether the multi-grade classroom produces cognitive skill outcomes different from those of the single-grade classroom is particularly important at this time of educational retrenchment.^ The purpose of this study are threefold: to fill the longitudinal research void that exists in the assessment of the cognitive effects of school organization on children; to analyze pupil characteristics that are affected by school organizational patterns; and to determine whether the multi-grade classroom produces reading skill outcomes different from those of the single-grade classroom at the primary grade levels. A review of the literature demonstrated that important deficiencies, including the Hawthorne effect, inadequate research design/statistical procedures, and other shortcomings exist in the limited number of research studies comparing single-grade and multi-grade classrooms.^ Four hundred two children who completed grade two in 1977, 1978, and 1979 were the subjects of this study. This is an ex post facto comparative study with post-treatment observation only utilizing a cohort, nonequivalent group design. Tests for meaningful differences among groups were performed using analysis of covariance and t-test procedures, followed by Student-Newman-Kuels's (SNK) a posteriori comparison of means when warranted. Certain features of multiple regression analysis as well as nonparametric statistics provided additional interpretation of the data.^ The major findings of the study include: (1) Reading achievement test scores do not vary significantly for children who spent first and second grade in single-grade or multi-grade classrooms. (2) The univariate F-ratio for the effect of chronological age (within the grade) on reading achievement is insignificant. (3) Although a narrowly significant difference favoring multi-grade was detected for older children within the grade, no other age category produced such differences. (4) The significance of intelligence and sex as predictors of primary school reading achievement is affirmed. (5) Children of low socioeconomic status scored substantially the same in reading as pupils in the average SES category.^ The principal implication of this study is that school officials may consider the multi-grade primary grade program a viable alternative to single grades and expect that such placement will not hinder a child's reading attainment. ^