Grade-Level Configuration in Missouri

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Grade-level configuration—the number of grade-levels included in a school—decisions vary by school, district, and state. This is especially true in Missouri. In fact, Normandy Schools Collaborative and Ferguson-Florissant are both re-configuring the grade structure in their schools. There is a growing body of research on the effects of different grade configuration models, but the results are far from conclusive. Some research finds that K-8 schools are better for middle school students, while more recent research points to this advantage disappearing in high school. One pattern that emerges in the research is that schools would do well to ease the transition from one grade to the next to help students succeed. This brief examines the research on grade configuration, and argues that it is important to evaluate the impacts these policy changes have on students.