Updated August 4, 2014

Planning continues for new grade spans (PreK/K-5; 6-8; 9-12) that will be implemented beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.

Why change grade spans?

Basic facts about the change in grade spans

Learn more about how the work evolved

Project Team Updates

Middle School Design Team

Based on the research that was conducted in Spring 2014 on effective middle school models and philosophy, the Middle Level Design Team received approval for two recommendations that were made to the superintendent’s cabinet and the Grade Reconfiguration Steering Committee. It has been determined that our middle schools will use:

  1. Grade-level interdisciplinary teams (grade 6, grade 7 and grade 8) for instruction in math, science, social studies, and language arts (“house model” in which a team of teachers works with the same group of students), and
  2. Daily advisory with structured curriculum around college/career planning, social/emotional learning, and academic oversight.

High School Programming Team

As of early August, there are no final decisions regarding high school programming.  The team is in the process of looking at:

  • 9th/10th grade physical education requirements,
  • Engaging grade 6-12 content teams to look at course sequence,
  • Meeting with grade 9-12 and grade 6-12 science teacher focus groups, and
  • Considering the addition of a Career and Technical Education course for core area graduation credit.

High School Facilities Team

The High School Facilities Team has begun to hold department-by-department meetings to establish the facilities design and design details. Final drawings will be posted on this site as soon as they are available.

Human Resources Team

The team learned from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) that gr. K-6 and gr. 1-6 teachers are properly licensed to teach 6th grade in middle school. MDE does not require these 6th grade teachers to have a middle school endorsement.

The team explored the possibility of completing an early staffing process. Typically, the staffing timeline begins in late February and March. As a result of their review of data and information from district experts, the team recommended and cabinet approved that the staffing timeline begin after January 1, 2015.

The team will continue to explore the possibility of moving the staffing process up a few weeks or modifying it in some other way.

Educational Support Professionals (ESP) leaders have an interest in educating their members about grade configuration, the middle school model and how it might impact them. ESPs also want to be included in developing building culture, team building and behavior intervention strategies.

Technology Team

The team is developing a comprehensive list of databases, scripts, and other technology systems that rely on fixed grade span definitions or site abbreviations (e.g., grade promotion processes, report cards, and health forms). All of those systems will need updates to reflect new grade level spans.

Grade configuration will be preK/K-5, 6-8, 9-12, effective Fall 2015.

  • Changing grade spans offers new opportunities to meet the developmental and academic needs of 6th graders and 9th graders. Our middle schools will use interdisciplinary teams for instruction in math, science, social studies, and language arts (“house” concept) and a daily advisory with structured curriculum around college/career planning, social/emotional learning, and academic oversight.
  • In the long term, the new grade configuration will provide benefits to students at all levels (e.g., potential expansion of early learning opportunities; more flexibility with space at elementary schools; new opportunities to meet the social/academic needs of adolescents at middle level; a more coherent high school program with all courses required for graduation under one roof; and alignment with state K-12 academic standards).
  • A comprehensive project management plan is in place that includes multiple perspectives in the planning and implementation of new grade spans. The plan includes areas such as middle level design, student transitions, staffing, technology, facility additions/repurposing, and operational logistics.
  • We are using the district’s staffing process and collaborating with labor leaders to support staff and help ensure a smooth transition to new grade spans.
  • To accommodate grade configuration, additions will be built at each of the three comprehensive high schools. The high schools were built over a 50-year period and have unique needs, so the space additions/repurposing will not be identical at each school. The overall investment at each school, however, will be about the same.
  • While changing grade spans will not result in boundary changes at any level, it does not mean that the district will never change school boundaries. Staff constantly monitors student enrollment and housing development. Periodic adjustments to school boundaries will continue to be necessary as populations shift in our communities and schools.
  • Learn more about how the work evolved.

The change in grade spans developed out of a need for additional space to accommodate all-day kindergarten. Early learning is a proven accelerator to close achievement gaps and expanding access to all-day kindergarten has been a school board-approved priority goal since 2007. The Legislature approved funding for all-day kindergarten beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, allowing the district to expand full-day programming districtwide.

In order to implement all-day kindergarten and maintain current programming in the areas of early childhood education, gifted education, intervention services and other special programs, additional space is needed at the elementary level. During the 2013-2014 school year, administrators and the School Board considered various options for creating space and presented those ideas for staff and community feedback. After considering feedback, the board approved a plan that would create the needed space at the elementary level through a change in grade spans.

Moving to a PreK/K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 grade configuration will:

  • reduce space pressures at the elementary level;
  • provide a more coherent high school program with all courses required for graduation under one roof;
  • allow easier access for 9th graders to high school sports/activities; and
  • ensure alignment with state K-12 academic standards.

To accommodate 9th graders at the high school level, space will be added and repurposed at each of our three comprehensive high schools.

Middle School

Guide to Middle School 2015-2016  English      Español      Hmoob      Vietnamese

Summary of Survey on Middle Level Course Offerings  December 2015

Updates posted on website

Update #20: New grade spans  February 17, 2016

Update #19: New grade spans  November 30, 2015

Update #18: New grade spans  October 19, 2015

Update #17: New grade spans  August 7, 2015

Update #16: Planning for new grade spans May 14, 2015

Update #15: Planning for new grade spans April 15, 2015

Update #14: Planning for new grade spans March 6, 2015

Update #13: Planning for new grade spans February 3, 2015

Update #12: Planning for new grade spans December 12, 2014

Update #11: Planning for new grade spans November 21, 2014

Update #10: Planning for new grade spans continues  November 4, 2014

Update #9: Frequently asked questions about moving to new grade spans  November 4, 2014

Update #8: Board reviews facilities planning for new grade spans  September 9, 2014

Update #7: Design plans, by building  September 9, 2014

Update #6: Planning for new grade spans (PreK/K-5, 6-8, 9-12) beginning Fall 2015 August 5, 2014

Update #5: Why change grade spans? August 5, 2014

Update #4: Basic facts about the change in grade spans August 5, 2014

Update #3: Update on planning for new grade spans for 2015-2016 June 19, 2014

Update #2: Grade spans to change to preK/K-5, 6-8, 9-12 beginning Fall 2015 March 19, 2014

Update #1: Grade configuration planning advances March 9, 2014

School Board considers potential grade span change  March 3, 2014

Updates provided at School Board meetings

You can view the video of each of these meetings here.

School Board Work Session, December 15, 2015
   Update on new grade spans
   This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents
   Proposed Middle School Elective Progression (as of 12/15/15)

Update to School Board, September 15, 2015

Update to School Board, August 18, 2015

Update to School Board, July 28, 2015

Update to School Board, June 16, 2015

Update to School Board, May 19, 2015

Update to School Board, April 28, 2015

Update to School Board, March 17, 2015

Update to School Board, February 17, 2015

Update to School Board, January 20, 2015

Focus Topic of School Board Work Session, December 16, 2014

Update to School Board, December 9, 2014

Update to School Board, November 18, 2014

Update to School Board, October 21, 2014

Update to School Board, September 23, 2014

Update to School Board, August 19, 2014

Update to School Board, July 29, 2014

Update to School Board, June 17, 2014

Update to School Board, May 20, 2014

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