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Old 03-09-2009, 08:53 AM
 
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I am a parent who is part of a community lobbying for a new public elementary school in our neighborhood. The idea of a K-8 school was suggested, instead of K-6 or preK-6. I have some concerns about separation of upper and lower grades, and the issues that young teens may bring to what is basically an elementary school setting. However, K-8 can help boost middle school students' achievement. I need your help in sorring this out.

What do you think? Is K-8 better? Are there special challenges or needs for this population? Any thoughts on how a school like this can be successful? I'd really enjoy hearing your thoughts.

Thanks!
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:13 AM
 
Location: downeast
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i live in a rural area with prek-8 schools, there are no middle schools or junior high schools in the area that i know of, and several of the communities feed to a private academy with 400+ students. i came from an area where all school systems had either a middle schools- 6-8 or junior high- 7-8
my personal opinions-
in favor of prk-8- 7-8th grade years are a difficult time/age. harder to pull away, easier to keep tabs on. less influence from older peers as they are still around little kids all day. harder to fall thru the cracks, easier to maintain grades.
cons- does not prepare them for high school atmosphere, have less responsibility. teachers still 'carry' some kids who would have fallen behind in other system (which is also a pro, but can hold back other kids) kids at this age can also have a negative impact on younger kids as they try to assert their independence (experimenting with language, girls etc...) this is an awkward age and sometimes best kept away from younger kids, but on the other hand, it can force them to try to keep it together a little longer. we have fewer problems with drugs, but that probably has more to do with the size of the town/school and accessability.
as soon as these kids get to high school, everyone gets sorted out just as you would expect, so i guess in the long run, it just keeps some out of trouble for a year or two longer, and some a year or so to catch up, and everyone else just fades into the woodwork.
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:19 AM
 
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We have no K-8 public schools where i am.

But my kids attend a private K-8 school and it works out fine, though it is a religous affiliated school so they are taught morals and how to behave from a young age. Not to mention most private schools REQUIRES parental involvement and public does not, it is often those children whose parents are NOT involved in their lives or education that have the most behavioral issues.

So their may be more problems trying to do this in a public setting. Your K's may come home having learned some new words ....
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
84,960 posts, read 98,795,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommax3plus2 View Post
i live in a rural area with prek-8 schools, there are no middle schools or junior high schools in the area that i know of, and several of the communities feed to a private academy with 400+ students. i came from an area where all school systems had either a middle schools- 6-8 or junior high- 7-8
my personal opinions-
in favor of prk-8- 7-8th grade years are a difficult time/age. harder to pull away, easier to keep tabs on. less influence from older peers as they are still around little kids all day. harder to fall thru the cracks, easier to maintain grades.
cons- does not prepare them for high school atmosphere, have less responsibility. teachers still 'carry' some kids who would have fallen behind in other system (which is also a pro, but can hold back other kids) kids at this age can also have a negative impact on younger kids as they try to assert their independence (experimenting with language, girls etc...) this is an awkward age and sometimes best kept away from younger kids, but on the other hand, it can force them to try to keep it together a little longer. we have fewer problems with drugs, but that probably has more to do with the size of the town/school and accessability.
as soon as these kids get to high school, everyone gets sorted out just as you would expect, so i guess in the long run, it just keeps some out of trouble for a year or two longer, and some a year or so to catch up, and everyone else just fades into the woodwork.
In my area we have several K-8s. They are basically run as two separate schools, a K-5, and a 6-8. In most cases, the middle school portion gets kids from other ele schools in the attendance area. The MS is run like a true MS, with different teachers for each subject, lockers, changing classes, etc. As for "preparation for high school", I think this is highly over-rated. The best preparation for high school is a good middle school foundation. I think one reason for the popularity of K-8s, as well as 6-12 schools, is flexiblity in classroom space and other resources. It seems our district favors K-8s, and the neighboring district favors 6-12s, basically, combined MS and HS. I think I'd rather have my 6th grader, or even my 8th grader, in a K-8!
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:34 AM
 
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My children were fortunate enough to attend a k-8 school when we lived in NJ for 3 years. I loved it.
I had a 1st grader, 2nd, and 8th. The little ones were thrilled to have their big brother in the same building, and it made their transition easier.

I thought the older kids were able to be children a little longer. They weren't thrown into a middle school in 6th grade, and forced to toughen up because they were again the youngest in the school. The 8th graders didn't have problems transitioning into high school, because the school still afforded them some of the middle school-type adjustments, like class changes and lockers. Plus, all the schools in the district were k-8, so, all incoming 9th graders were coming from the same experience.

Another benefit? Only one back-to-school night, fundraiser, etc to contend with!

I think the concept only works in small districts. Our school was only around 400 kids in k-8.

When we moved again the two younger boys had to go to a regular middle school. The oldest had a much better experience in the k-8 than the other two had in 6-8, at least from a parents perspective.
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
84,960 posts, read 98,795,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattie View Post
My children were fortunate enough to attend a k-8 school when we lived in NJ for 3 years. I loved it.
I had a 1st grader, 2nd, and 8th. The little ones were thrilled to have their big brother in the same building, and it made their transition easier.

I thought the older kids were able to be children a little longer. They weren't thrown into a middle school in 6th grade, and forced to toughen up because they were again the youngest in the school. The 8th graders didn't have problems transitioning into high school, because the school still afforded them some of the middle school-type adjustments, like class changes and lockers. Plus, all the schools in the district were k-8, so, all incoming 9th graders were coming from the same experience.

Another benefit? Only one back-to-school night, fundraiser, etc to contend with!

I think the concept only works in small districts. Our school was only around 400 kids in k-8.

When we moved again the two younger boys had to go to a regular middle school. The oldest had a much better experience in the k-8 than the other two had in 6-8, at least from a parents perspective.
Our district has 3 K-8s, with a population of 740-990 students. I think it can work anywhere. The ele kids are in self-contained classrooms.
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:51 AM
 
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Thanks for the great comments so far!

It sounds like separation of the upper and lower grades is the key, as well as good organization by staff and admin.

What if your school system isn't exactly, er, top-ranked? Mine isn't, althorugh there are some good schools here. How does the quality of the school system impact this scenario?
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Old 03-09-2009, 09:57 AM
 
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My kids are in a private school with PK3-12 on one campus. PK3-6 are in the lower school. 7-12 are in the upper school. 6th grade is a transition year with kids changing classes, having lockers, chooing electives and being dismissed in a manner similar to the upper school (separate from the rest of the lower school).

I think the key for having mixed grades in one school is to make sure there are age appropriate rules and procedures in place for each age group. Just because K-8 are in the same building it doesn't mean that the rules fo 5 year olds have to be exactly the same as the rules for 14 year olds. The school administration has to have a clear idea of the rules/procedures that are appropriate for each age group and how they will ensure that those rules are followed.

For example-in my kids school 5/6th graders who take electives (band, chorus, etc.) are walked en mass by a teacher to the fine arts building. 7-12 graders are permitted to walk there by themselves.

PK-4th grade do not change classes. 5/6th graders change classes but their classes (exept electives) are all in one small area of the campus. 7/8th graders can be anywhere in the middle school area (2 buildings). 9-12 can have classes all over the place.

Also-in our school the upper school kids have little contact with the lower school kids. Younger kids stay with a teacher at all times. Older kids have slightly more freedom to walk around the campus.

I think mixed ages can be fine, but it needs to be well thought out.
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Old 03-09-2009, 11:03 AM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
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More so than the quality of the school system, the quality of the building administration and faculty will have much more of an impact than anything else. A K-8 school with a good staff is better than a K-6 with a middling staff, and vice-versa.
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Old 03-09-2009, 12:00 PM
 
Location: downeast
473 posts, read 614,447 times
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i agree about the quality of staff and administration.
we have a situation with one building, 50 +/- students. prek-4 is in one wing, 5-8 in another (though not a large building to begin with). 2 grades per classroom, about 10 kids per classroom (one teacher)
recesses are seperate, lunch is seperate, but most rules are the same. older kids are not given a lot of responsibility, treated much the same as younger ones. teachers tend to err on the side of caution because young ones are present, limiting things like older kids play at free times (no football, basketball or anything that they could get hurt). because of school and class size, there are no class or teacher changes, limited ability to teach varied levels of material, no g&t, not a lot of help for special ed or learning disabilities. they have installed lockers for the 7 and 8th grade, but they are not used much as they have desks in their classroom (that they dont change from).
dont get me wrong, i love our small school- i know the teachers, most live in town, they know me and my kids. i can call them at home and they can and do call me. i dont have to wait for teacher conferences, i know more about my kids lives than my parents ever knew about what was going on in my life (not for lack of trying, we just lived in a large district, junior high was over half hour drive away, over 200 kids in my class at that level). i just also understand how unprepared they are for highschool. i have 5 kids- one has graduated, one in highschool and the other three are grades 6-8. its not just about being prepared for the 'big' school. teachers at the high school have told me that they can tell which ones came from the small schools - even the ones who are academically gifted at the elementary level seem to struggle at the hs level, at first its because they are lost, overwhelmed, then its a matter of trying to fit in and find a place. there is more to preparing for high school than just academics, and there is more to an education than reading books.
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