East Valley SD credits eliminating middle school with higher graduation rates

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by SHAWN CHITNIS & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on March 27, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 6 at 3:22 PM

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -- For more than three years the East Valley School District has been in transition.

Administrators are phasing out the middle school and keeping older kids in the same place they went to elementary school.

Superintendent John Glenewinkel says this type of change is necessary to help students perform in school. Until recently, students went from one of the East Valley elementary schools to the middle school after sixth grade. Once the school board decided to switch to a kindergarten through eighth grade setup, students remained at the elementary school.

“I don’t believe that the middle school model is the most effective for educating this age group,” Glenewinkel said.

This fall the middle school will be used for other services, rather than classes. Some are concerned about having such a wide range in ages all in one school, but so far the district doesn’t think it’s a problem.

“We’re seeing older kids taking on a caring relationship for younger kids. Our preliminary data shows bullying has decreased.”

The advantage to having so many grades in one location is having access to teachers from lower grades if a student is falling behind and needs help.

“I don’t know that the K-through-eight model is right for everybody. I know it’s a model that we have used to significantly improve education.”

Recently the district was unable to pass a bond to pay for improvements, but the superintendent says the plan would have happened either way. The extra money wouldn’t have made much of a difference in the transitions.

“If we’re truly going to reform our system and have better outcomes for kids, we must tip the system to a large degree.”

So far the district says they’ve seen an improvement in high school graduation rates and more students taking college credit because of the change.

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