Academics Info on Split Grades/ Multiple Forms of Single Grades Classes

Info on Split Grades/Multiple Forms of Single Grades Classes

INFORMATION ON SPLIT GRADES AND MULTIPLE FORMS OF SINGLE GRADES

What are split grades?

It is the practice of creating classrooms made up of two different grades of students. For example, grades 2 and 3. They are sometimes called ‘combined grades' or 'multi-grade classes'.  Split grades are common in both urban and rural schools in the school division. There are situations, particularly in rural communities, where more than two grades are combined.

Are split grades new?

No –They are thought to simply echo the origins of the one room schoolhouse where all students from grades 1 to 8 were in a single class.

There have been years when Cornerstone has not had any split grade classes and some years when there have been many.  The need for and number of split grade classrooms is solely dependent on enrollment numbers in any given year.

Why do spilt grades exist?

Schools organize split grades when the numbers of students need to be balanced out and to provide additional placement opportunities for new students in grades that have unusually large numbers.

For example, there may be 29 Grade 3 students and 11 Grade 4 students. The school would create split grade classrooms to balance out class sizes and to have more than a singe placement opportunity for each grade of students. Creating two Grade 3-4 spilt classes in this case would equalize class sizes AND allow for the school to accept additional grade 3 and 4 students should new enrollments arrive.

Why not create one grade 3 class and one 3-4 class in this case? Bluntly put, this would cause many parents to advocate for their child to be in the straight grade 3 class. This is what has happened historically in this type of situation. The school would not be able to accommodate every request rendering many parents unhappy. Therefore, we would strive for equity by creating two 3-4 spilt classes.

Class composition is very carefully thought out by the school staff. Each and every child is placed with consideration. Likewise, individual needs are also balanced with class dynamics and the needs and compatibility of the group. Some of the other factors taken into consideration are classroom size, work habits, emotional development, exceptional learning needs, social development, etc.

Is it really possible to teach two different grades?

Just as in same-grade classes, teachers of split grade classrooms use a wide range of teaching strategies to make sure they cover the curriculum expectations. Students in a split grade follow expectations for their specific grade.

Students in a split grade spend time learning as a whole class, in small groups and individually. Sometimes they will be grouped based on a specific grade-level task and other times the teacher will group them based on their learning needs.

Some parts of the overall expectations of the curriculum are simply adjusted from one grade to the next—skills and understandings may be introduced in the lower grade and are then developed to a more complex level in the next grade.

For example, in a split grade English Language Arts class, all of the students would learn writing skills. The students in the lower grade might be expected to use joining words to combine simple sentences. The older students might be required to use sentences of different lengths and complexity.

Teachers would assess and evaluate the work differently to reflect the variation in curriculum expectations from one grade to the next.

The teacher may have the whole class participate in a common activity, and then begin working individually or in a small group on grade-specific curriculum expectations.

For example, in a split grade class, when teaching the life systems in science, the teacher might start by showing a video about a specific animal. The younger students would do a follow-up activity to identify the characteristics and needs of living things, while the older students would find and describe characteristics that are similar among a variety of animals and focus on growth and change in animals.

But my child is in the older grade...will they be challenged?

Yes! Your child will be challenged at his/her own academic level. All students will receive the full and complete grade program. Along with the academic studies, your child will also learn to work with younger children, reinforcing their confidence, their independence and their leadership skills. In fact, researchers have found these are the most important advantages.

But my child is in the younger grade...will they be confused or overwhelmed?

No! There is a wide variety of emotional, physical, and academic traits in any group of children. Your child will be challenged at his/her own academic level. All students will receive the full and complete grade program. The younger children in a split grade class have many people they can ask for help and older children whose emotional maturity, leadership and academic skills they can model.

Do parents get to select the class their child will be place in or which peers will be in their child’s class?

  1. No parent will receive special consideration regarding class placement of their child otherwise ALL parents would be entitled to the same consideration. This would leave the task of dividing the groups impossible.

For example, Mrs. Jones wants her child Sam to be placed in the same room as Alex. Mr. Brown requests that his child Alex be separated from Sam. The school cannot honor both requests. Therefore, the students will be placed based on the professional judgment made by the teacher team.  

Parents must trust the professional judgement of the team of teachers who collaborate to create the class rosters. The information used to determine class rosters is strictly confidential and will not be disclosed to parents.  

But parents pay tuition at CCS! Doesn’t this give us the right to select our child’s class? Paying tuition does not entitle parents to special consideration regarding student placement or enable parents to determine the need for split versus straight grade classes. 

Do parents get to see the class roster when they are notified that their child will be in a split grade class?

  1. NO. Every effort will be made to inform parents of their own child’s class placement prior to the first day of school. Full roster information is confidential and will not be released by the school.

When will I know if my child is a split grade?

Every effort will be made to inform parents of their own child’s class placement prior to the first day of school.  Enrollments can fluctuate greatly over the summer break; therefore, it is not possible to finalize grade combinations and class rosters until just prior to the first day of class.

 (Split grade information adapted from Shelly Laskin, Toronto District School Board)

 

What are grade forms?

It is the practice of creating multiple classrooms made up of one grade of students. For example, having two classes of grade six students.

There have been years when Cornerstone has only had one class of each grade and some years when there have been multiple forms.  The need for and number of multiple forms for single grades is solely dependent on enrollment numbers in any given year.

Why do grade forms exist?

Schools organize multiple grade forms when there are high numbers of students in one particular grade. Forms are created to balance out needs, provide smaller class sizes, and to provide additional placement opportunities for new enrollments.

For example, there may be 36 Grade 6 students. Creating two grade 6 classes of 23 students in this case would reduce overall class size AND allow for the school to accept additional grade six students should new enrollments arrive.

Class composition is very carefully thought out by the school staff. Each and every child is placed with consideration to the whole child. Likewise, individual needs are also balanced with class dynamics and the needs and compatibility of the group. Some of the other factors taken into consideration are classroom size, work habits, emotional development, exceptional learning needs, social development, etc.

Do parents get to select the form their child will be place in or which peers will be in their child’s class?

  1. NO. No parent will receive special consideration regarding class placement of their child otherwise ALL parents would be entitled to the same consideration. This would leave the task of dividing the groups impossible.

For example, Mrs. Jones wants her child Sam to be placed in the same room as Alex. Mr. Brown requests that his child Alex be separated from Sam. The school cannot honor both requests. Therefore, the students will be placed based on the professional judgment made by the teacher team.  

Parents must trust the professional judgement of the team of teachers who collaborate to create the class rosters. The information used to determine class rosters is strictly confidential and will not be disclosed to parents.

Paying tuition does not entitle parents to special consideration regarding student placement or enable parents to determine the need for multiple forms of specific grades. 

Do parents get to see the entire class roster?

  1. NO. Every effort will be made to inform parents of their own child’s class placement prior to the first day of school. Full roster information is confidential and will not be released by the school.

When will I know if my child’s grade will have more than one form?

Every effort will be made to inform parents of their own child’s class placement prior to the first day of school.  Enrollments in CCS can fluctuate greatly over the summer break; therefore, it is not possible to finalize grade combinations and class rosters until just prior to the first day of class.