Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Dr. Robert B. Ribble


This longitudinal study investigates brain growth periodization, also known as the brain spurts theory. The theory calls for maximum brain growth between the ages 2-4 years, 6-8 years, 10-12 years, and 14-16 years. For several decades researchers have observed fluctuations in the rate of growth for various areas of student achievement. These fluctuations occur in an extreme form from ages 8 - 14. The brain spurts theory asserts that there is also variation during this period in the rate of brain cell development. This researcher utilized a random sample of 50 students in a western New York school district where data was available for their scaled achievement scores on the Stanford Achievement Test battery. The sampled students come from both rural and suburban areas. They were all in the same grade level at the time of the study. The basic purpose of this study was to see if there was an explanatory fit between the fluctuations asserted by the brain spurts theory and the fluctuations observed in achievement scores for this sample.

An ancillary question that was investigated was whether or not a significant difference in mean performance existed between males and females on each of the sub-tests on the Stanford Achievement Test battery. Since this was a pilot descriptive investigation, the 90% confidence level was chosen as the level at which to test the significance of the difference between two independent group means. The decision to include this ancillary question also lead to stratifying the random sample of 25 males and 25 females. Male/female comparisons were made using a 2-sample t-test.

The scaled scores of the Math Application, Math Computation, Reading Comprehension, and Vocabulary portions of the Stanford Achievement Tests were used. A data base was created and all of the statistics utilized in this study were computed using the computer statistical package GB-Stat by Dynamic Microsystems, Inc. Graphs on growth for ages 8 - 14 were completed. The coefficients of determination were also computed.

Inconclusive evidence was found to either support or oppose the above stated theory. Inconsistencies were found in the growth patterns of the four areas tested. Two basically matched the growth pattern of the brain spurts theory and two did not. Possibilities for the inconsistencies are discussed in the conclusion.

It was found that the best coefficient of determination value for the scores achieved at 14 years was at an age level which was at the same point in the growth pattern of the brain spurts theory.