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.”