Doral News published in its edition #53 an article by Ilse Bigot were the different options that are being considered for the future of our schools are explained. There it is mentioned that those who would like to see JIS transformed into a K-8 center in two campuses base their opinion, in part, in a study made at the University of Columbia on the achievements of the students attending one type and the other of schools. Representatives of a group of parents also presented this work in support of K-8 centers over middle school models to the ABC. I have read it and even wrote to one of the authors of the study (Associate Professor Jonah Rockoff) to confirm one point that was not written but implied in the text.
In their study “Stuck in the Middle: Impacts of Grade Configuration in Public Schools” (June 2010) the authors use the student’s standardized test results to extract conclusions on the progress of students attending K-8 centers vs. those attending middle school centers.
There are several reasons why this study can neither be extrapolated to our schools nor used to support the ABC recommendations.
1) All the K-8 centers studied were one building centers (as confirmed through e-mails with the author). What the ABC recommendations offer is a K-8 center in two campuses. This study in no way can be used to support a K-8 center in two campuses (several blocks appart) as a better option than a stand alone middle school.
2) The authors speculate that one possible reason for the better performance when the students stay in a K-8 center has to do with the fact that they may feel they are roll models to the younger ones because they keep contact with them. This will not happen in a K-8 two campuses model.
3) The demographics of the population studied are completely different from those of our schools. It is not scientifically correct to extrapolate those results to our schools.
4) The relative performance of the students in the middle schools studied by Rockoff et al. (compared to that of the students in the same grade in K-8 centers) is negative (lower) and decays from 6th to 7th, and to 8th grade. DMS got the best FCAT results in the region last year when comparing students in grades 6th to 8th of all public schools. Although I do not have the information for the same generation from year to year, in graph 1 you can compare the results of the Base Line Interim Assessment Test of 6th graders (that is to say the students that have just entered the school and have barely been influenced by DMS education) with those of the other centers in Doral, and the results of the 8th graders (they have almost completed three years in DMS) with that of other 8th graders in Doral’s public schools. Renaissance Middle Charter is not included as their results have not been published yet. From these data it can be inferred that if a study similar to that by J. Rockoff et al. was performed in our community, there is no way to get similar results to those in the aforementioned study. In Graph 2 you can see the results of this year’s three Interim Assessment Tests for DMS, compared to the District average for all public schools (including charters) considering grades 6, 7, and 8.
The unabridged version of the mentioned study is available at:
A summary of the study was published in EDUCATIONnext and is available at: