Mixed Grade Classes

Archived Q&A and Reviews

4th/5th Combination Class

Nov 2006

My daughter is in a fourth/fifth grade combination class at a public school. After the teacher tested the students at the beginning of the year, they all were assigned to work at the fifth grade level. So essentially my daughter is skipping the fourth grade although she is not considered a fifth grader. We are happy that she is finally being challenged and is proving more than able to handle the work. But I'm concerned about skipping (or really skimming over) the California history and science that are part of the fourth grade standards. She is supposed to learn this in a special session on Mondays which is scheduled for 30 minutes each week. (She's also studying fifth grade history and science.) I'm also confused about what will happen next year. The principal says this year's fourth graders will be offered an enrichment year in fifth grade although I have no details about what that means (partly because a new teaching team for this grade level is starting this year). How have combination classes worked for others? What advice would you have about making this situation work at its best? Is thirty minutes sufficient for a bright, focused student to learn fourth grade history and science? (I have my doubts about the depth of the curriculum that could be covered in 30 minutes.) Since she's excelling at fifth grade material, should we be looking into Middle Schools for next year? What are advantages/disadvantabes about skipping a grade? How do you know if your child is ready for that? (Skipping a grade isn't my first choice but a year without academic challange isn't either.) If she stays in fifth grade enrichment, what should I be advocating for?
Not sure what to do

I just had this experience and my main advice is TALK TO THE PRINCIPAL IMMEDIATELY and find out what the plan for next year is!! How exactly does the school plan to deal with these kids next year? My son was a 4th grader in a 4/5 split last year and this year he and the other former 4th graders are basically repeating 5th grade. On the plus side, he was excited and challenged for the first time in his elementary career last year and LOVED it, but this year he is really bored and says every day that he does not want to go to school. I asked last year what the plan would be for this year and nobody knew. I was concerned but decided to go with the flow. Then the principal retired and the new principal had no idea the situation even existed. She doesn't really know what to do about it either. So the responsibility for coming up with something new for these kids has fallen entirely on their 5th grade teacher, who despite her best efforts, does not have the time to come up with what would essentially be a 5/6 split curriculum, especially since the kids from the last split are a small portion of the class. This has been especially difficult in math where the kids from the split had been given different books and then sent to work independently during math time every day. They now have volunteers who come to work with them a few days a week, but my son still put ''a math teacher'' on his Christmas wish list. Frustrated parent

I would recommend that you suggest that your 4th grade teacher ''loop'' up with the 4th grade class and teaches a straight 5th grade class next year. Having the same excellent teacher for two years worked out very well for my son. She knew the specific strength and weaknesses of 1/2 the kids already and the classroom culture was already known to half the kids so the first month of 5th grade was MUCH more productive than usual. And, the teacher was able to really extend out the math and especially writing skills of the kids who had ''done'' 5th grade as 4th graders. I felt that having in a way having two years of 5th grade really helped prepare my son for middle school. I wouldn't worry that much about missing the 4th grade history subject content. Really its the skills that are learned in the upper elementary school grades that are the most important anonymous