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Could pushing the middle school grades into elementary schools help defray the behavioral and academic issues that bedevil middle schools? San Diego Unified has been testing the waters with a few K-8 schools, and now Los Angeles is as well, adding 6th grade at 14 elementary schools.

Last year we visited Grant School in Mission Hills to study the phenomenon; the Los Angeles Times takes a look at the merger in this article:

Middle school “is when we start to lose a lot of the kids,” said Lourdes Renteria, one of the mothers who worked with a community organizing group, LA Voice-PICO, to lobby for the change. “That’s when they get into fights, start thinking about drugs and start joining gangs.” Keeping them at Murchison, she said, could steer them clear of those shoals.

But the jury is still out on the benefits of going K-8, the LAT reports:

Research is sketchy on the benefits of K-8 schools. The studies that have been done suggest that students behave better but that academic improvements are likely to be relatively modest.

“There’s no body of research at the present time that says what type of configuration delivers the best results,” said Al Summers, director of professional development for the National Middle School Assn. He dismissed the K-8 movement as the “reform du jour,” and asserted that middle schools are uniquely able to meet the needs of adolescents through, among other things, separate classes in music, art and physical education.

EMILY ALPERT

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