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A MODIFIED CASE STUDY EXAMINING THE EFFECTS OF SPECIFIC SCHOOL GRADE-LEVEL ORGANIZATIONAL MODELS ON NINTH-GRADE LEARNERS

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Disciplines
  • Design
  • Education

Abstract

This doctoral dissertation represents a qualitative study employing a modified case study research design that is intended to assess the perspectives of school practitioners (i.e., principals, guidance counselors, and teachers) who work with ninth graders relevant to their perceptions of the developmental needs of those students, how their respective schools address those needs, and the effects their schools’ grade-level organizational plans may have on grade nine. This study employs semi-structured interviews, document reviews, and direct observations for data collection. Two case sites were selected for this dissertation—one populated by students in grades nine through twelve (9-12) and another with pupils in grades seven through nine (7-9). Both sites were selected purposefully on the basis of their grade-level configurations, their contemporary and historical relevance to ninth-grade-level education, and their proximity to the principal researcher. Sample groups at each school included 10 practitioners who worked directly with ninth graders within a multitude of professional realms, particularly administration, counseling, and teaching. Upon site selection, building principals were recruited for participation in this study; henceforth, those subjects selected nine other participants of faculty rank based on their professional positions and affiliations with students at the ninth-grade level. The data seems to indicate that practitioners at the grades 9-12 high school perceive ninth graders differently from that of their counterparts at the grades 7-9 junior high school. The high-school subjects generally describe ninth graders as being immature, whereas participants at the junior high school perceive them the opposite of that. It also appears that participants at the grades 9-12 site lack consensus on the attributes of ninth-grade developmental needs with some questioning the appropriateness and/or legitimacy of four-year high schools for educating students at that grade level, while others ardently support that construct. Conversely, practitioners at the grades 7-9 junior high school seem to be unified in their perspectives on ninth-grade-level development—contending that ninth graders are better educated in junior high schools versus senior high schools and that their school is developmentally appropriate and more suitable for ninth-grade learners.

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