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Peru considers moving sixth graders from middle school

The change would save the district money and benefit students

Interim Peru Central School Superintendent is looking at an array of ways to overcome a $1 million deficit, including moving sixth graders back to elementary school.

Interim Peru Central School Superintendent is looking at an array of ways to overcome a $1 million deficit, including moving sixth graders back to elementary school. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

— Besides cost savings, Scott said according to research it could be beneficial for students to remain one more year in elementary school.

“It turns out there are benefits to that,” he said. “We are not the only school district across the nation and state that looks at returning grade six to intermediate.”

Early 20th Century American schools placed sixth graders in elementary school, which ended in eighth grade. After World War I, more schools began ending elementary school with sixth grade. In the later part of the 20th Century, millions of sixth graders were moved to middle schools, which most often had grades six through eight.

Today, 75 percent of sixth graders nationwide attend middle school.

Yet sixth grade is a major crossroads in a child’s development, Scott said, and it would seem important to place them in the proper environment during this period.

The Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke university examined whether sixth grade should be part of elementary or middle school.

It noted that a sixth grader is elementary school is among the oldest students there but in the middle school is the youngest with daily exposure to older adolescents.

The study found that sixth graders attending middle schools are more likely to be cited for discipline problems that those attending elementary schools. The higher infraction rates by sixth graders who are placed in middle school persist at least through ninth grade.

The study concluded that there is a strong argument for separating sixth graders from older adolescents.

Scott said that change would also result in cost reductions in terms of classifications of positions.

“We can do the redistribution with less cost to our school community.”

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