One question that comes to the Office at this time of year, or at the beginning of each school year, is how we determine which class students will be in. The first thing parents need to know is that this is a carefully considered process. There are a number of factors that go into this decision including the number of students in each grade, trying to get a balance of gender and abilities, and maintaining some social supports for each student. In the end, the most important consideration is what is in the best academic interest of all of our 420 students.
The reality for many of our students is that they will be in a split grade classroom at some point during their academic careers, often more than once. Our school achievement data would say that students in split-grade classrooms achieve at or above the level of students in straight grade classrooms, which is also at or above the average of most students in the province of Saskatchewan. One might argue that with the diverse needs and abilities of students, no class is a "straight" grade. Our teachers use a variety of strategies to best meet the individual needs of their students. This would include flexible groupings, within and beyond the walls of their classroom. Being in a lower spilt does not mean that students are lower in their ability, in the same way a higher-grade split is not comprised of the highest achieving students. Each classroom needs a heterogeneous balance.
Finally, students cannot be grouped based on where their friends are, or whether they are with the favourite teacher they have always wanted. We do pay attention to social supports, but working in the same classroom with your best friend(s) is not always the best thing from an academic point of view. While each teacher has strengths that may be somewhat different from their colleagues, all have incredible talents to share in a challenging, rewarding learning environment. I would not hesitate to have my child educated in any one of their classrooms.
On very rare occasions, changes may be made if it is determined to be in the best academic interests of the particular child. The final decision rests with the Principal, in consultation with the staff. Asking for a straight grade, a group of friends, or a particular teacher will have little impact in the process. We appreciate your understanding and support in this annual endeavor.
In June, we will not be announcing to students which classroom they will be a part of next year, as we cannot guarantee that the classroom configurations will not change before school start-up. We are very close to the numbers required to have an extra teacher assigned to our school in the upper elementary level. If that were to happen, the addition of one teacher may change the configuration of classrooms all the way down to Grade 1.
As a staff, we put in numerous hours into considering what is in the best academic interest of all of our students. Thank-you for your understanding and support as we begin this process for the next school year. Understanding our parameters, if there is a situation that you believe we need to be aware of as we consider placements and learning environments for next year, please do not hesitate to call me at 791-8504.