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The End of Grade Levels?

The End of Grade Levels? from Parade online newsletter "Intelligence Reports" http://www.parade.com/news/intelligence-report/archive/the-end-of-grade-levels.html

Starting this August, elementary and middle-school students in one school district in Westminster, Colo., won't be assigned to grade levels based on age. Instead, they'll fall into multi-age levels based on what they already know and will move up only as they master new material.

Should schools do away with age-dependent grade levels?

The concept makes sense to many education experts because it matches how kids actually learn: One student needs three hours to figure out fractions while another takes a full day. The approach was successful in the Chugach public school district of Alaska during the 1990s. After five years, student-achievement scores there jumped from the bottom quartile to the top quartile, and the system is still working well today. Several other districts nationwide are considering the model, and some schools in Maine plan to implement the philosophy over the next few years. "Teachers who try it are excited. They see how powerful it is," says Richard DeLorenzo, who was superintendent of Chugach during its transformation and who co-founded the Re-Inventing Schools Coalition to perpetuate the model.

Still, many districts are hesitant. "It's very hard to get people to believe in something new," says Deborah Meier of New York University's Steinhardt School of Education. "They worry that it's a guinea-pig experiment or a fad that will go away in a few years."


from Molly - It's fascinating to see educators re-discovering Dr. Montessori's insights.


Pioneer Valley Montessori School, 1524 Parker Street, Springfield, MA 01129 • 413-782-3108

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