Anson Co. sixth graders will remain in elementary school next year

Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 2:50 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Rising sixth graders in Anson County will not be heading off to middle school in the upcoming school year after the county Board of Education approved a change on Tuesday. Instead of attending middle school, sixth graders will stay at their elementary schools for the 2023/2024 school year. It’s a move that nearly half of all parents supported, according to the Board of Education.

Earlier this year, the school district sent a survey to families of students providing three different options.

  • Keep sixth graders in their home school (elementary school of current attendance).
  • Allow sixth graders to attend middle school.
  • Create a ‘sixth-grade academy’ for students to attend.

Most families, around 48% of those responding, selected the first option to keep these students in their elementary schools. On Tuesday evening during the Board of Education meeting some of those parents addressed the board showing support for the plan.

“I believe it is a much better option to leave sixth graders at elementary school, just from my personal experience with it,” one father told the board.

Two people addressed the board Tuesday and both supported keeping students in elementary school for one more year.

“I don’t think that the majority of the fifth graders are mature enough in their walking life to hang out with seventh and eighth graders, they’re still trying to figure their way,” another speaker said.

Researchers at Duke University studied the idea of keeping sixth graders out of middle school. The results show there are negative impacts to placing students typically ages 11-12 into a different school.

“Sixth graders placed in middle schools have more discipline problems and lower test scores than their peers who attend elementary schools,” according to a study by researchers at Duke University and the University of California, Berkeley.

That’s just part of the reasoning behind the move to keep students in their home schools for one more year.

Superintendent of Anson County Schools, Howard McLean, told WBTV he supports the school board’s choice and said it could have a positive impact on teachers as well. The idea is it is easier to find teachers certified in K-6 teaching, he said.

Recruiting isn’t the only challenge. Retaining teachers is also top of mind for Anson County Schools, and as part of the 2022/23 Strategic Plan, the district is working to ensure teachers are happy where they are.

“Based on survey data, Anson County Schools will decrease the number of teachers who reported they wanted to leave the district from 27 in 2021- 2022 to 18 (representing a 30% decrease) in 2022-2023,” Goal 3 of the Strategic Plan reads.

The changes are only for the upcoming school year but it’s possible the Board of Education will take similar steps in the future.

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