Research on School Configurations

This page shares a collection of studies, reading surveys, and full dissertations on the subject of school configuration and school transitions.

A 2007 reading survey by Tilleczek and Ferguson that looks at research literature on transitions from elementary to secondary schools. This report was commissioned in Ontario and considers this topic with a Canadian perspective.


This extensive 2012 study by Anderson looks at belonging, continuity, and academic achievement, which can all be hampered by school to school transitions. The reading survey gives a very thorough look into grade configuration history and previous research.


A 2013 study by Carolan that looks at the relationship between school transitions and achievement. This one identifies possible gains in configurations that include older students.


A 2015 study by Carolan and Chesky that looks at grade configuration, school attachment, and achievement. This study notes that additional measures to improve attachment may offset the cost of transition.


This 2009 study by Schwartz et. al. states that students in schools with longer grade configurations outperform students in schools with shorter grade configurations.


Another study looking at transition and achievement, this one in 2013 by DelViscio in an urbanized environment. Once again, transitions negatively impact achievement, and more so for vulnerable students.


This is the grandfather study that really began this line of research and nearly all studies use as a reference. Alspaugh looked at secondary transition in 1999 and noted that it negatively impacted achievement and added to dropout rates. These impacts seem worsened when later in high school, and that the effect was harder on boys.