The Divide over Splits…

They’re not because of cutbacks. They’re not because of politics.

Split classes happen due to class caps. In order to keep classes smaller, the kids ‘over the cap’ become part of a split. Sure, it would be lovely to have 15 students in a classroom, but thats not the norm in public schools. Once we have 25 or 26 students in a room, the additional students need a home, and a split is born.

Sometimes, we have the right numbers for a straight 4 and a straight 5, but we have personalities in each room that really need to be separated. With two 4/5 splits, we have two rooms to divide those kids between. Having more physical rooms available for kids in a particular grade is how we balance high needs kids, gifted kids, esl kids, tech dependant kids, and personalities between the rooms. It also gives a range of teachers to choose for each kid, since some teacher personalities suit certain kids better than others.

in a well-run split class, the students can’t all have the same ‘work’ because they have to do grade/level work. With IEPs many kids have individual programs anyway. (In my 7/8 split last year I ran 5 different math programs.) Regardless of ‘split’ or not you have 30 different kids with individual needs.

Split classes really are in the kids’ best interest. I have always asked for the split when given a choice, because they give me the freedom to be creative in how I release responsibility to my kids. They give the higher-grade kids a built in review, and built-in leadership opportunities, and benefit the younger-grade kids by showing context, and where processes will go next. I also appreciate how individual differences in modified programs are less visible in a split, and all kids feel more included.

So before you panic about having a child in a split-class, think about the benefits. And please remember: building a classlist for a split-grade room takes a great deal of work — which helps your child be in the best possible place for them.

MPJ

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