Monday, October 13, 2014

Education Best Practice: K to 8 Configuration


The United States is virtually the only nation where elementary school students spend time in a middle or junior high school before entering high school.  The curricular and non-curricular benefits of a K-8 school have been written about in multiple studies and newspaper articles.  This is what educators, parents and nationally respected research institutes have concluded about the advantages of the K-8 model:


Curricular Benefits

v  Studies have found that 8th graders in K-8 schools score significantly higher than those in middle school on standardized tests of achievement in reading, mathematics and science.

v  Attendance, dropout rates and student test scores are better for children attending K-8 schools than for those in traditional middle schools.


K-8s are the place where everybody knows your name.

v  Teachers in K-8 settings are accustomed to teaming, planning together and working with the same group of students.  They are also trained to teach elementary students and bring a student-centered approach to their teaching.

v  Children in K-8 schools are able to experience the comfort and stability of familiar surrounding and staff for an eight or nine-year period. 

10- to 14-Year-Olds are Children

v  Forces in today’s society are pushing 10- to 14-year old children to grow up fast.  Because they have fewer children in that age group, K-8 schools are in a better position to remind children, parents and the entire community, that these are still children and should be treated as such.


v  The configuration of grades 6-8 actually works against the needs of young adolescents.  Ten-year old children are at their most vulnerable when moved from the stable school environment they are accustomed to and asked to navigate a new school and a new succession of adults while they are still learning to negotiate with each other. 

Greater Parent Involvement, Leadership Skills and Higher Self Esteem in K-8

v  Parents are more inclined to stay connected to and involved in K-8 schools than in middle schools—a factor that correlates highly with student success in school.  Too frequently, parents disconnect when a child graduates from a K-6. 

v  K-8 settings provide the ideal environment to begin fostering leadership in young adolescents.  Older children serve in many capacities and undertake service projects, while younger students have someone to look up to. 

v  Students in the K-8 school show a higher self-esteem and confidence and a healthier adolescent development.

Sources:  American Association of School Administrators (AASA); National School Boards Association (NSBA); Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL);  Deseret News (Marjorie Cortez); Philadelphia Education Fund (Keith Look)

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