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Volume 14, Number 1
January/February 1998

Multi-age Classrooms

An Age-Old Grouping Method Is Still Evolving


Seven years ago, when Connie Chene took over as principal of the Puesta Del Sol Elementary School in Rio Rancho, NM, she issued this challenge to her teachers: If they had any ideas about how to do things differently to benefit kids, all they had to do was talk to her.

Located just outside Albuquerque in one of the state's fastest growing cities, Puesta Del Sol had a not-so-progressive classroom arrangement. All special education students were taught outside the school in portable buildings; all regular education students were taught inside the main building. Chene was immediately besieged by proposals from regular and special education teachers who wanted to combine their students. Teachers knocked down walls between rooms, more proposals came in, and Chene now presides over a smorgasbord of classrooms: both single grades and mixed ages in both regular and inclusion classrooms, including one inclusion class that spans kindergarten through the 3rd grade.

"Teachers began to see the power of kids with different abilities and different points of view working together in the classroom," says Chene. "They began to buy into the idea that society is multi-age, families are multi-age, and we wanted the classrooms to reflect real life."

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

M. A. Bozzone. "Straight Talk From Multi-age Classrooms: Why Teachers Favor Nongraded Classes and How They Make Them Work." Instructor 104, no. 6 (March 1995): 64-70.

P. Chase and J. Doan. Full Circle: A New Look at Multiage Education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1994.

B. A. Miller. "What Works in Multiage Instruction," Education Digest 61, no. 9 (May 1996): 4-8.

B. N. Pavan. "The Benefits of Nongraded Schools." Educational Leadership 50, no. 2 (October 1992): 22-25.

Society for Developmental Education. The Multiage Resource Book, 1993. PO Box 577, Peterborough, NH 03458.

S. Veenman. "Cognitive and Noncognitive Effects of Multigrade and Multi-Age Classes: A Best Evidence Synthesis." Review of Educational Research 65, no. 4 (Winter 1995): 319-381.