There is nothing new about K-8 schools. Most public schools in America were like this until the mid-1900’s, when junior high schools became popular. But K-8 schools have recently been enjoying a resurgence in popularity, for a variety of very important reasons.
1. Reduced Costs
Larger K-8 schools provide economies of scale over multiple elementary and middle schools. Shared spaces like administration, media centers, and cafeterias also reduce overall facility and maintenance costs.
2. Higher Student Achievement
Students stay closer to home in a familiar environment for a longer period of years. Studies show that fewer transitions lead to improved behavior, better student outcomes and higher student achievement.
3. Family-Friendly Schedules
Older students have the same school schedule as their younger siblings, making it easier for busy families to coordinate after-school and family activities.
4. Minimized Disruptive Behavior
Disruptive behavior of intermediate age students tends to be minimized when there are younger students nearby, even though the age groups are separated in the school itself.
5. Improved Access to Facilities and Programs
Younger students can benefit from additional extracurricular and sports opportunities, and all age groups can benefit from cross-age tutoring.
6. Improved Teacher Teaming and Planning
The student-centered approach used by elementary school teachers inspires secondary teachers to a more team-oriented approach. Secondary teachers see the hard work, spirit and energy that the elementary teachers exhibit, and it rubs off.
7. Happier Faculty – Longer Retention
Class sizes tend to be smaller in K-8 schools, which enhances learning and helps teachers better manage their classrooms. K-8 teachers tend to stay an average of 3 years longer at their schools than middle school teachers.
8. Strengthened Support Systems for Students
Because students stay in one school for 9 years, they form closer relationships with teachers and other adults. Teachers know the students and their families well. This more personal, intimate “family” environment provides them with a greater sense of continuity and security. Stronger student support systems have been shown to increase students’ future success.
9. Strengthened Support Systems for Parents
Parents identify more with the school and tend to remain more involved throughout all 9 grade levels. Their involvement also strengthens the school’s ties to the community, an important source of support.
Click below to see the new K-8 School in Marianna, Florida, designed by DAG Architects and Donofro Architects that will replace 3 older schools in the Jackson County School District. The two distinct age groups will be housed in separate wings and share amenities like the main entry, administration, dining and the media center. A central courtyard and an amphitheater provide opportunities for outdoor learning and collaboration.
For more information about DAG Architects or K-8 facility design, please contact:
Jack Baker, AIA, FCP