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Should sixth-graders move to middle school?


Last updated 3/21/2019 at Noon

Edmonds School District, which says it is over capacity at the elementary level and future projections make the situation even more serious, is considering moving sixth-graders to middle schools.

In the spring of 2018, the district’s enrollment committee made the recommendation to reconfigure the current grade structure, moving sixth-grade students from elementary to middle school.

It would be the best fit for overcrowding issues, the district said, but it needs to determine if it’s also the best fit for students.

“Our sixth-grade students are ready for the high academic expectations that are incorporated within the middle school environment,” said Westgate Elementary Principal Jennifer Braille. She has worked as a teacher and administrator at elementary, middle school, and junior high (seventh-ninth-grade) levels.

An earlier move to middle school could give sixth-graders more access to advanced academic options, as well as electives and specialized programs.

“We have a large group of sixth-graders from College Place Elementary who take advantage of the proximity and already utilize our school and benefit from the additional time and opportunities,” said Sam Yuhan, principal at College Place Middle School in Lynnwood, where many Edmonds students graduate to.

“It’s great to have them on our campus for band twice a week, and it would be wonderful to be able to offer them more options.”

Moving sixth-grade to middle school would also increase the time before the students’ next transition, from middle school to high school.

With a seventh- and eighth-grade model, half of the students are coming and half are going in any given school year.

“Middle school students need to feel they belong,” Yuhan said. “They need a sense of community that takes time to build.”

The Association for Middle Level Education, a national organization dedicated to the education of adolescents, reports that students ages 10-15 need educational programs that serve their unique developmental needs.

That is, students at this age need educational programs that are developmentally responsive, challenging, empowering, and equitable.

“The leap between fifth and sixth grade is towards applying skills and going deeper in content areas,” said Sherwood Elementary Principal Christi Kessler. “We are working to support our sixth-graders move towards this depth of knowledge and prepare them for the rigor of middle school.”

“Edmonds School District will continue to examine the idea of a change to our middle school model from all angles before making a decision, and we’d like your input,” said district spokeswoman Kelly Franson.

You can take an online survey at bit.ly/ESD6thGrade, and look for additional information and further opportunities to provide input in the future.

Any potential changes would not impact the 2019-2020 middle school year, but would be considerations for future school years, Franson said.


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