Edmonds School District looking at idea of moving 6th graders from elementary to middle school

A College Place Middle School student raises her hand for Principal Sam Yuhan (Photo courtesy of the Edmonds School District).

The Edmonds School District said it is over capacity in its K-6 elementary schools, and future projections make the situation even more serious.

That’s why the district is taking a hard look at moving its current 6th graders to middle school — changing from the current grade 7-8 middle school configuration to one that is grades 6-8. The school district is asking the public to take an online survey regarding the idea, and there will be more opportunity for discussion at a later date.
Any potential changes would not impact the 2019-20 middle school configurations, but would be considerations for future school years, the district said.

In the spring 2018, the district’s enrollment committee recommended that the district reconfigure the current grade structure, moving 6th grade students from elementary to middle school. While it would be the best fit for overcrowding issues, the district now needs to determine if it’s also the best fit for the students.

in a school district newsletter sent to parents and the community last week, Westgate Elementary Principal Jennifer Braille noted she has worked as a teacher and administrator at elementary, middle school and junior high — 7th-9th grade — levels.

“Our 6th-grade students are ready for the high academic expectations that are incorporated within the middle school environment,” she said.

An earlier move to middle school could give 6th grade students more access to advanced academic options as well as electives and specialized programs, the district noted.

“We have a large group of 6th 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. “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 6th grade to middle school would also increase the time before the students’ next transition, from middle school to high school. With a 7th and 8th 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 — points out that students ages 10-15 years old 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 5th and 6th grade is towards applying skills and going deeper in content areas,” said Sherwood Elementary Principal Christi Kessler. “We are working to support our 6th graders move towards this depth of knowledge and prepare them for the rigor of middle school.”

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