As Parkway Elementary School incorporates using multi-grade classrooms, other schools have already tried and seen positive results, several administrators said.

Both Jamie Aliveto, executive director of system accountability and school administration, and Karen Prichard, an elementary school director for the district, said multi-grade classrooms are not a new concept. The multi-grade classroom system was introduced, in large part, to help the district reduce its overall class size ratios. 

Wolfsville Elementary implemented a flexible, multi-age grouping system last year that placed students in classes based on skill level and achievement. They will continue using the same system this school year with some expansions.

“We felt like we were able to very specifically target student skills and make sure they were continuously being challenged and growing,” Wolfsville Elementary School Principal Megan Stein said.

She said she understood the concerns of some Parkway parents regarding how students would handle traveling to different classrooms and the social effects of being placed in a multi-grade classroom. After a year of seeing it play out, however, Stein said she didn’t see any negative consequences.

“We found the older kids took on the opportunity to really serve as leaders and models, and also it was motivating for the younger students,” Stein said. “[And] the kids loved moving from classrooms to classrooms. ... It was a built-in break for them and they really appreciated the opportunity to learn in a new setting.”

Aliveto and Prichard also said that teachers for multi-grade classrooms will be given extra support throughout the school year and that the decision to incorporate these classes was done with student success as the ultimate goal.

“One of the things we look at all the time, regardless of what the staffing is, is how best to teach our students,” Prichard said. “Multi-grade and other unique approaches to instruction are seen as, actually, a very good thing in order for us to meet the needs of kids. ... We can look at things a little bit differently and provide for students what they need.”

(9) comments

Nilsius

Whether you like it or not, kids in FCPS will be competing against other kids worldwide for spots in higher-Ed. Rationalizing multi grade classrooms instead of the providing necessary funding is laughable. #dodobird #littlehouseontheprairie #schoolmarm #mentalgymnastics

newspostreader

Grades have always been mixed in many high school classes and it works well. Why not try it in lower grades? Parents are getting worked up before giving it a chance to work.

Thewheelone

The grades are mixed up in high school but they are being taught one curriculum. Grade 1 and 2 are different curriculum, not like having 10th, 11th and 12th graders taking algebra 2 or US History

wonderingwhy

Montessori schools have two to three grades in one classroom and it works really well, because the whole philosophy of the system is to have older kids mentor the younger ones. AND, the equipment and curriculum is set up to have kids working to their best ability. It works very well. But that's very different from just putting multiple ages in one classroom.

Tierney026

We are pulling our son out of FCPS for this reason. He’a going into 4th grade this year and his school will be combining 3 and 4th grade. He will be starting private school 9/3.

Ystj

Pulled our kids out as well. They start private school this year. What is not talked about is the kids who are bad and taking up 80% of the time. The smaller kids who are quiet will be left behind. This is what public school is like now. Liberal parent who won’t discipline their kids and teachers who have no choice. Thank god for options. I have a middle schooler who went to monocacy middle and she said the teachers were cursed our daily. Sad to see...

drudake

a different approach might be paring down the huge number of non-teaching positions FCPS maintains like "executive director of system accountability and school administration" for example.

abowers1

[thumbup]

DickD

[thumbup]

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