UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Configuration conundrum : teachers' beliefs about grade-span configuration and student reading achievement Torry, Jennifer Nicole


Due to shifts in population distribution in British Columbia (B.C.) schools, school districts are scrambling to open, close, and reconfigure schools to meet the needs of fluctuating student populations. However, studies about the impact of grade-span configuration on student reading achievement are inconclusive. This study compared grade 8 teachers’ beliefs about grade-span configuration and student reading achievement through the mediating effects of school transition age and instructional practices. The concepts of sociotechnical systems theory and organizational cultures were used to frame the research. Data was collected from 32 teachers in two B.C. school districts using a mixed-methods survey; 22 respondents taught in middle schools (grades 6-8) while 10 respondents taught in secondary schools (grades 8-12). Participants taught English, Social Studies, and/or Humanities or were classroom/generalist teachers. The study was uniquely positioned to understand the context of B.C. schools because grade 8 students are either the oldest or the youngest in their grade-span configuration, something previous studies did not analyze. Because of the low number of respondents, only the qualitative responses were used in data analysis. The themes that emerged from the data were the supportive nature of middle schools, the need for more inclusive educational practices, and the need for meaningful implementation of the Middle School Concept (MSC). This study highlights the need for further school level research to understand the impact of grade-span configuration and the implementation of the MSC to support students.

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