WILMINGTON — The Wilmington City Schools Board of Education will hold two community forums on the subject of grade-level centers.
The meetings will be at 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, and 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, both in the WHS auditeria, 300 Richardson Place in Wilmington.
Currently, Denver Place, East End and Holmes Elementary Schools have student bodies determined by geographic areas, and the children at those elementary buildings range in grades from kindergarten through fifth grade.
A grade-level center would group children together by grade level and not by geography.
As previously reported by the News Journal, after the Jan. 22 school board meeting where a couple parents raised questions about grade-level centers, McCarty-Stewart said there is no data or research that points to student achievement with a particular grade-level configuration.
But she went on to say the grade-level evaluation process going on here involves looking at “what we do know about” teacher effectiveness, student collaboration, the big transition in entering middle school, instructional practices, students connecting with students, as well as socio-economic imbalances among the elementaries and class-size imbalances among them.
Class size is considered key, especially in the early grades, and if all the district’s 3rd-graders, say, were in one building rather than three, district officials would be able to balance out the class sizes rather than have pockets of higher student-to-teacher ratios, the superintendent has said.
A drawback mentioned by a parent at the Jan. 22 board meeting is having more building transitions for children in the elementary grades.
One of the main benefits of grade-level centers, in the superintendent’s view, are social benefits from having more grade-level peers. For example, the grade-level format increases a child’s opportunity to find peers with common interests, and increases his or her opportunities to connect with more students with similar learning styles, according to a handout based on McCarty-Stewart’s visits with PTOs.