When K-12 students share a campus: looking at the research
There are many opinions and questions about what the best configuration of grades might be for students in Sackville. The SS2020 vision sees a Community Learning Campus with facilities for students in grades K through 12. So, while those students may be in different buildings, they are located in one area and have access to shared resources. It’s helpful to look through the research and examine existing K-12 schools, both in NB and elsewhere in North America, to see what kinds of outcomes can be expected with all students sharing a campus, rather than being grouped by age/grade in separate buildings located far apart.
New Brunswick has several K-12 schools, in both Anglophone and Francophone districts. These schools consist of either a single building, or multiple buildings adjacent to one another. Among the K-12 Anglophone schools are Blackville School, Campobello Island Consolidated, John Caldwell School (Grand Falls), Hartland Community, Grand Manan Community, and Petitcodiac Regional. Francophone schools include Centre Communautaire Saint-Anne (Fredericton), Carrefour Beausoleil (Miramichi), and Samuel-de-Champlain (Saint John).
A K-12 grouping is more common in rural areas, where there are overall fewer students and it makes economic sense to share resources and minimize repetition. For example, is there any value in having 3 school libraries, when a larger modern library could easily meet the needs of all students? Beyond the economic reasons, are there other benefits of having students of all grades combined into a single building or sharing a campus? Although there isn’t extensive research to answer this question, there are many studies and anecdotal information to suggest that YES, a K-12 configuration has many benefits for students, both in terms of academic achievement, but also for mental health and community-building.
What other K-12 schools are saying
By having schools within a short distance from one another, resources can be shared, peer teaching and learning opportunities are strengthened, and teacher collaboration spanning grades is made possible, among other things. There is evidence to show that a K-12 campus can result in:
Increased parental and family member involvement
Healthier social adjustment and sense of belonging
The Presidio School has this to say about the K-12 model:
“It has long been Presidio School’s contention that grade-span configuration has a significant impact on children’s academic achievement as well as social and emotional well-being. Presidio adopted a K-12 configuration with the belief that it would promote improvements in academic achievement, social development, attendance and overall behavior of the students at all grade levels. This theory has been born out at Presidio as evidenced by Presidio’s rising test scores, consistently above state levels; a campus virtually free of violence; and a campus where students, parents and faculty refer to the school community as the Presidio Family.”
According to a school in Vancouver (VCS), the K-12 configuration helps students thrive, especially when the administration and teachers share a vision about learning across grade levels.
“Knowing our students well and developing long term, K-12 learning goals are two key reasons students are more likely to thrive throughout their school experience. As VCS is a K-12 school on a single campus, our teachers and administration are able to cultivate relationships and academic objectives long term.”
Some benefits VCS relays about a K-12 campus:
Students are known by staff members from an early age through to graduation
Student profiles are developed over time, ensuring needs are met
A consistent academic program, developing strong skills over time
Leadership and student mentorship opportunities within the school program
Multi-age, real-life learning opportunities
One site, one purpose
The idea that students have to be divided into separat schools based on age and grade began in the early 1900s when the Middle School idea was born (Franklin and Glascock, 1996). Although it is often assumed that this is still common practice because it is the best thing for children, with K-12 schools being a thing of the past, research shows otherwise. According to Howley (2002), the K-12 model boosts academic achievement, especially for middle schoolers.
Research that looked at whether student performance in rural schools was affected by grade configuration showed the following findings (Franklin and Glascock, 1996):
“Research shows that that a K-12 configuration has a positive outcome for sixth- and seventh-grade students, in terms of both achievement and persistence. Students in K-12 schools performed as well as those in elementary schools overall and performed better in some cases. For grades 9-12, the K-12 school was more beneficial to students than the traditional secondary school, particularly in the area of student persistence or conduct.”
These researchers provide the following advice:
“We propose that small K-12 schools have much to offer in the way of social and academic development and should be given careful consideration by school administrators engaged in restructuring activities.”
Lindner (2009) did a case-study of a K-12 school with much positive feedback from students, graduates, teachers and parents. For example, his research showed that the K-12 organizational structure enabled:
cross-grade activities that provided opportunities for extended learning
student/teacher relationships that were close, personal, and long lasting
mentors and students that benefited from peer-tutoring
a nurturing, safe, and supportive educational climate for learning
“a continuous flow” (in the words of a participant)
academic outcomes that were comparable or better than students in other grade organizational structures
Available evidence suggests that the K-12 model has a positive impact on students in many ways and is just one of the many great things that a Community Learning Campus would bring to Sackville students.
Collaboration helps foster deeper learning
Teachers and schools in Tantramar, the Anglophone East School District and the province are working to make New Pedagogies for Deep Learning, based on the work of Michael Fullan, an integral part of the curriculum.
Deep Learning is driven by collaboration, with the Collaborative Inquiry process used at all levels:
Students design, assess and monitor their own learning
Teachers collaborate to assess, design, implement and reflect and adjust learning; and
Leaders assess the learning conditions that support deep learning and design strategies to create improved conditions.
Deep learning is actually based on changing the cultural and structural form of our schools, so they are moving toward individualized learning, problem-based and experiential—not age-based classes and separate grades. A K-12 campus would allow for students to be grouped in terms of their interests and abilities, rather than simply by age and grade.
Thus, a Community Learning Campus, which brings together students of all ages, along with many opportunities to connect with the the wider community, would help support the move towards Deep Learning. This, in turn, would help make learning more meaningful and engaging for students in Sackville.
Franklin, B.; Glascock, C. (1996). The Relationship between Grade Configuration and Student Performance in Rural Schools. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the National Rural Education Association (San Antonio,TX).
Lindner, A., (2009) "The School Climate in a K-12 Single-Campus School as Perceived by Students, Graduates, Parents, and Teachers". Dissertations. 522. https://digitalcommon s.andrews.edu/dissertations/522
Howley, C. (2002) Grade - Span Configurations Where 6th and 7th grades are assigned may influence student achievement.http://www.portangelesschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_142018/File/Community/Capital%20Facilities%20Planning/Long-Range%20Facilities/ms3.pdf
New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL): http://npdl.global/
Presidio K-12, Tucson, Arizona: https://www.presidioschool.com/k-12-education-works/?fbclid=IwAR3BqQ5mCP_5FrL8l0hBiJNWDRZwzoaDuJH6rbqZ7yOEh7H5BiEhK2T_oA0
Vancouver K-12, Vancouver, BC: https://vancs.org/new-page-1/?fbclid=IwAR0L2TRkrO2z3QfcXw31r_UxSe02Sx3J2EyBqXl94YEZ3ZMaUVL5VqezaGI