Multi-Grade Classes May Leave Kids Behind

Natalie Ramsey

The Charter Opinions- 1/14/19

Multi-grade classes are hard on both the students and teachers involved, and it is still up in the air whether they are they best option of education. These types of classes are often used in smaller schools to ensure that they will have enough students to run the class, but often times, having a mixed age group can create certain difficulties.  

Multi-grade classes are nothing new and are still commonly used in the American education system. Although multi-grade classes have been used quite commonly for many years, there have always been very mixed results as to whether or not they are effective. This type of classroom requires teachers to teach multiple grades at once, which some may not be properly prepared to do. According to the Education Policy Brief for the Center For Evaluation and Education Policy “Many teachers report having almost no preparation for teaching students of different ages, and about eight in ten teachers oppose differentiated instruction, which is to adapt the curriculum to meet all students’ needs.” This lack of preparedness could potentially cause gaps in students’ educations.

The idea and concept of multi-grade classrooms seems perfect. They provide students with a natural social setting, which can help to improve students’ skills, as well as encouraging the older students to set a good example for the younger students.

Unfortunately, the idea of well functioning, multi-grade classroom is not always the reality. Often times families will be dissatisfied with the methods of teaching used in a multi-grade classroom, and are worried that their student’s needs will not be met. Due to state regulations, students are required to take standardized tests by their individual grade level. Even though multi-grade classes may be technically effective, they are not all compatible with grade level content and testing. The Education Policy Brief for the Center For evaluation and Education Policy says “However, in recent years, some schools have discontinued their multi age programs due to the grade-level standards and testing requirements…”

For some schools, having multi-grade classes fit their model. Unfortunately, they are not the best option for core classes such as math and English, which have very specific standards per each grade level.

Sources:

Are Mixed-grade Classes any Better of Worse for Learning? April 2016.
https://theconversation.com/are-mixed-grade-classes-any-better-or-worse-for-learning-38856 Accessed January 3, 2019.

Coleman, Mary. Personal Email Interview. December 26, 2018.

Education Policy Brief, Center For Evaluation and Education Policy. Winter 2009.
https://archive.org/details/ERIC_ED504569 Accessed December 20, 2018.