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Study: Middle School Students Better Off in Schools Designed for Elementary and Middle Grades

Students attending schools with kindergarten through 8th grade, including Corbett Prep, have a better experience socially and academically. 

middle schoolFeb. 2, 2017 (TAMPA, Fla.) – A new study reinforces that students who attend schools that include the elementary and middle school grades are happier, perform better academically and encounter less bullying than students who go to traditional middle schools.

The difference comes down to being the “top dogs,” a more favorable position at school. At a school that starts with sixth grade, the middle school-aged students are at the bottom of the pecking order. Shifting from “top dog” status in fifth grade to “bottom dog” as a sixth grader can be tough on students and may contribute to academic declines in middle school, according to the study, published last fall in the American Educational Research Journal.

Students who attend schools that encompass kindergarten through 8th grade — such as Corbett Prep, which actually starts in PreK3 — have more chances to be “top dogs.” That privilege translates into a better experience socially and academically for students. “Top dogs” overall felt safer at school, reported fewer disciplinary instances and benefited from increased academic achievement.

“Grade span matters to student experiences at schools,” study co-author Michah Rothbart said in a news release.

Rothbart, of Syracuse University, along with his co-authors Amy Ellen Schwartz, Syracuse, and New York University’s Leanna Stiefel studied 90,000 students at more than 500 schools. They found that “top dog” perks even extended to new students who transferred into a K-8 school during the middle school years.

Corbett Prep treats its Middle School students as leaders of the entire school, providing opportunities in on- and off-campus retreats for the students to learn leadership skills, discover their personal strengths and work together as teams. Older students in the Middle School and intermediate grades also serve as buddies throughout the school year for Field Day, STEAM Fest and other special activities.


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Founded in 1968, Corbett Preparatory School of IDS (formerly Independent Day School - Corbett Campus) is a fully accredited, nonsectarian private school located in Tampa’s Carrollwood neighborhood. The school serves over 500 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and offers the International Baccalaureate program of study for all students. Teachers are endorsed in gifted education through a master’s level grant with the University of South Florida College of Education. Corbett Prep balances a dynamic, nurturing and safe learning environment with high standards and high expectations to develop a positive approach to life and learning. Corbett Prep has become recognized as an exemplary school with over 7,000 visitors observing and learning from Corbett Prep teachers. For more information, visit www.corbettprep.com or contact the Admissions Office at (813) 961-3087.