A Multilevel, Longitudinal Analysis of Middle School Math and Language Achievement


  • Keith Zvoch Albuquerque (NM) Public Schools
  • Joseph J. Stevens University of New Mexico




Middle Schools, Mathematics Achievement, Reading Achievement


The performance of schools in a large urban school district was examined using achievement data from a longitudinally matched cohort of middle school students. Schools were evaluated in terms of the mean achievement and mean growth of students in mathematics and language arts. Application of multilevel, longitudinal models to student achievement data revealed that 1) school performance varied across both outcome measures in both subject areas, 2) significant proportions of variation were associated with school-to-school differences in performance, 3) evaluations of school performance differed depending on whether school mean achievement or school mean growth in achievement was examined, and 4) school mean achievement was a weak predictor of school mean growth. These results suggest that assessments of school performance depend on choices of how data are modeled and analyzed. In particular, the present study indicates that schools with low mean scores are not always “poor performing” schools. Use of student growth rates to evaluate school performance enables schools that would otherwise be deemed low performing to demonstrate positive effects on student achievement. Implications for state accountability systems are discussed.


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Author Biographies

Keith Zvoch, Albuquerque (NM) Public Schools

Keith Zvoch earned a doctorate in Quantitative Methods from the Educational Psychology Program at the University of New Mexico in 2001. He is currently a research scientist for the Albuquerque Public School District. Dr. Zvoch also teaches research methods and statistics at the University of New Mexico on an adjunct basis. His current research interest is the measurement and assessment of school effects.

Joseph J. Stevens, University of New Mexico

Joseph J. Stevens is a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Stevens' research concerns applications and validity of large-scale assessment systems, the evaluation of accountability systems and school effectiveness, and the assessment of cognitive diversity.




How to Cite

Zvoch, K., & Stevens, J. J. (2003). A Multilevel, Longitudinal Analysis of Middle School Math and Language Achievement. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 11, 20. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v11n20.2003