(PHOTO AND STORY: KHQ.COM)
Spokane Public Schools has begun making plans for the 2021 construction bond, which includes the idea of potentially readjusting the grade configurations. The configurations are being looked at due to enrollment growth and class size reduction legislation for grades K-3, according to SPS.
For the past four months, a Grade Configuration Study Committee made up of parents, staff and community members has been reviewing several grade configuration models, including moving 6th grade students into middle schools.
Below are the committee findings for all three configurations that were looked at:
- Current research has not found that all students perform better in one particular school grade configuration over another.
- Transitions (moving up to the next school level) can have positive and negative effects on students, academically and socially. If transitions are not carefully managed, they can have negative effects on student achievement during the year immediately following the transition. When thoughtfully managed, these negative effects can be minimized or removed.
- SPS provides a variety of academic options to meet the individual needs of students, offering not only a core grade configuration experience for students but also providing a portfolio of program and grade configuration options for students and families.
- School boundary changes will be required in all grade configuration models, given student enrollment growth and the need to reduce K-3 class size, requiring more classrooms and schools.
The following are the findings for a K-5 -> 6-8 middle school -> 9-12 high school
- More academic opportunities are available for 6th graders in this configuration to include electives and acceleration - most curriculum is aligned to this grade configuration.
- There are more opportunities for parent involvement in a three-year middle school.
- A 6-8 middle school extends the time between transitions, removing the feeling of always transitioning.
- Many 6th graders are ready for middle school socially and are developmentally closer to 7th and 8th graders than to primary students, though it places them with older peers.
- A 6-8 configuration may not be right for some students as compared to the current K-6 elementary school configuration or a K-8 configuration.
- SPS would need to build fewer new school facilities to accommodate growth and K-3 class size reduction with this configuration.
The following are the findings for a K-8 -> 9-12 high school
- Students have only one transition throughout their K-12 experience.
- There is an opportunity for more family and community involvement.
- There is a much broader student age range in a K-8 school but fewer students per grade in 7-8 compared to middle schools.
- Fewer academic, arts and extracurricular opportunities are available.
- Would require major facility changes to convert elementary schools to a K-8 school configuration.
The following are the findings to keep the existing K-6 -> 7-8 middle school -> 9-12 high school
- Comfortable for teachers, parents, and the community – it’s what has been in place for a long time.
- Maintains buy-in from parents for seven years in the same elementary school.
- Keeps students close to home (often within walking distance) for an additional year.
- Student peer groups remain the same as they are now.
- SPS will need to build more school facilities with this configuration to accommodate growth and makemore boundary changes than with the K-5/6-8/9-12 configuration.
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