Thursday, December 18, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

West Sac educators find K-8 configuration brought ‘calmer’ campus, higher test scores

By
From page A13 | February 10, 2013 |

About five years ago, the Washington Unified School District in West Sacramento shifted its grade configuration in a big way. The district transitioned from a traditional model — several elementary schools feeding into a single middle school, which fed into a comprehensive high school — to a new model in which most students attend a neighborhood school serving grades K-8, and then move to a high school serving grades 9-12.

“I really like it,” said Associate Superintendent William Spalding, who started working in Washington Unified two years ago after working in other districts that have the more common elementary/middle/high school configuration. “In terms of school climate and culture, it has an enormous advantage. I’ve been a middle school principal — when you take the prepubescent behaviors and isolate them from older and younger students, it can feed some behaviors that may not get you what you’re looking for academically.”

“What I see in the K-8 configuration is that the eighth-graders take on responsibility and serve as kind of mentors, like big brothers and sisters to the other kids. It’s hard to quantify, but the school culture feels calmer,” Spalding said. “But it’s an investment,” both in terms of facilities and staffing.

Principal Grace Chin opened Bridgeway Island Elementary in West Sacramento as a K-6 elementary campus 11 years ago, and continued as principal when Bridgeway Island switched to a K-8 configuration about five years ago. Students in grades K-5 study in a classroom with a single teacher, as they did before.

“Our students in grades 6-8 have a six-period day, and move from class to class,” Chin said. “What the district added to the school was a science lab, and another computer lab. We don’t have a gym or a locker room, but we have a physical activity room with an indoor climbing wall, rowing and biking machines, and other equipment for P.E.”

Chin said there was some parent concern about having kindergartners and eighth-graders on the same campus.

“But the older kids’ classrooms are in a different wing, and the younger kids are their siblings and neighbors,” Chin said. “We have them for nine years. The younger kids look up to the older kids. We are also a (school) uniform district, so from kindergarten through eighth grade, the kids are in uniform.”

Adding seventh- and eighth-graders boosted Bridgeway Island’s enrollment from about 670 students and one principal (as a K-6 school) to about 930 students with a principal and assistant principal (as a K-8 campus, with about 100 students per grade level). There are no combination classes, with students of different grade levels studying together. The older students and younger kids eat lunch at different times; the younger children get more recess time.

In terms of the state’s academic performance index, Bridgeway Island Elementary has an 882 ranking — very much within the range of elementary schools within Davis, and more than 100 points higher than Bridgeway Island’s 765 API ranking in 2005, when it was a K-6 school.

And the Washington Unified district is one of the few in the region that has maintained class-size reduction. In K-3 classrooms at Bridgeway Island, there are 20 students per teacher. But the school does not have counselors (whereas junior high schools in Davis do). Bridgeway Island has a band program, but Washington Unified doesn’t have the kind of string music/orchestra program that is found in Davis schools.

Chin said, “I think the main advantage is that the teachers really know the students. And the students know all the teachers. We’re also extending their childhood a little bit more. If you go to my school dance at Bridgeway Island, we don’t have some of the issues that the junior highs in Davis sometimes have at dances. My daughter went to junior high in Davis.”

Spalding added, “Running a K-8 school, there are lots of plates we keep spinning. But I wouldn’t trade it. Even though there are some tricky parts to it, the overall result is better, particularly around school culture.”

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Former foster youths aided by UCD’s Guardian programs

    By Sarah Colwell | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Rain Recyclers saves water for another day

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    City plans signs to improve flow on Fifth Street

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Boston bombing suspect in court for first time since 2013

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    U.S., Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    State gets more rain, big mudslide

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Feds will discuss Berryessa Snow Mountain protection

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    ‘Longest Night’ service Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Nominate teens for Golden Heart awards

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Journalist will join post-film discussion Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    City offices will take a winter break

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    New technology chief will join McNaughton Newspapers

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Yolo County needs a few good advisers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Per Capita Davis: Time to stop fooling around

    By John Mott-Smith | From Page: A4

     
    NAMI-Yolo offers free mental health education program

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    .

    Forum

    Disagreement on mother’s care

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Marovich is a brilliant diplomat

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    And a jolly time was had by all

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Remember that all lives matter

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Pollution from electric vehicles

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    On skiing: What to know when buying new skis

    By Jeffrey Weidel | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devil boys host Les Curry beginning Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD women gear up for second half of swim season

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie men begin 4-game road trip at Air Force

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Youth roundup: DBC Juniors rider Kanz wins a cyclocross event

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    College Corner: How does applying for financial aid work?

    By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: B3

     
    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B3

     
    Something growing in the mailbox

    By Don Shor | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Anniversary: Barbara and Jan Carter

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Arts

    Sing and dance along to Cold Shot at Froggy’s

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Point of Brew: Recollections of Christmases past

    By Michael Lewis | From Page: A7

    Golden Bough brings Irish holidays to The Palms

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Come ‘Home for the Holidays’ and benefit school arts

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Thursday, December 18, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Last Minute Gift Guide

    Young phenoms make YouTube success look like child’s play

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG1

    Classic or contemporary, it’s all holiday music to our ears

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG2

    Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG3

    Holiday decorating contest winners light up our lives

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: LMG4 | Gallery

    Gift ideas for the health-conscious

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: LMG6

    Hall of Fame proudly puts these toys on the shelf

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG7