By Evan Kurtz, Head of Middle School
A recent article from the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS), which followers of Charlotte Prep on Twitter (@CharlottePrep) may have already read, was titled, “Students in K-8 Model More Academically Confident Than Middle School Peers.” Those of you with more experience at Prep may simply nod your head in agreement, thinking to yourself, “I know. I’ve seen it in action.” For newcomers to the school and model, allow me to elaborate. And while I may be a newcomer myself, in my short time here I have witnessed all parts of what the article addresses, and then some.
The beginning part of the piece has briefings on the major topics to follow, with the first one reading, “…the K-8 configuration is associated with students having more positive views of their academic abilities.” I agree wholeheartedly and have seen that many times as students are confident in their abilities not because they have been given empty praise and told how wonderful they are doing, but rather because they have been asked to reflect on and own their work. By having teachers who spend more time with students, both each day and over the years, the school adults get to know students well academically and socially. This leads to feedback being authentic, and students being able to take this information from their teachers and use it critically to improve their work.
Later in the article, the school community is addressed, detailing some benefits of having K-8 students on the same campus able to collaborate in different ways. The quote that struck me was, “…it’s important for school leaders to pay attention to the ‘instructional and social environment’ as students progress through the middle grades.” No doubt I agree with the importance of what school leaders (in this case me) have to pay attention to, but I would change the “and” to a “/” to read, “instructional/social environment.” In other words, you can’t have one without the other. This environment is enhanced at a K-8 school by ensuring that students of all ages interact with one another in and out the classroom in positive ways, creating happy students who are also effective students. Examples of how Charlotte Prep is making this happen are through our BUDEE program, where older and younger students are paired and develop a one-to-one relationship, as well as in larger groups, such as our drama productions that span grades 3-8.
The researchers who conducted the study state that they need more data to determine a stronger correlation. I invite them to our school, where the benefits of the K-8 model are many, and on display each day at Prep.