To help interested parents understand that our proposed program was more than just a good idea that we had come up with, Heidi and I compiled and presented a brief summary of research on multiage classrooms. We made this page into a handout for the meeting and I have used it ever since as a part of my brochure and parent website.
Professor Barbara Pavan reviewed 64 research studies on nongraded (multiage) schools. Pavan found that 58% of those students in multiage classes performed better than their peers on measures of academic achievement. 33% performed as well as their peers, and only 9% did worse than their peers.
Pavan also found that students in multiage settings were more likely than their peers to have positive self-concepts, high self-esteem, and good attitudes toward school. Her review of the research also indicates that benefits to students increase the longer they are in a nongraded setting, and that "underachieving" students also benefit from being in multiage classrooms. (This research summary can be found in the October 1992 issue of Educational Leadership, pp. 22-24.)
Parents are often concerned that older children in a multiage setting will not benefit as much as younger children. Research shows, however, that when older students teach information and skills to their younger classmates, their academic performance, and even IQ scores, dramatically improve. The research of Arthur Whimbey (in his program T.A.P.S: Talking About Problem Solving) showed that when students were routinely given the opportunity to teach someone else, their scores on IQ assessments improved as much as eighteen points.
In another study done in the 1960s, underachieving high school students who acted as reading tutors for younger students, improved their reading scores by an equivalent of two years, in just six months' time. (From the Nov. 1994 edition of Educational Leadership, p. 58.)
Educational research indicates that students benefit both academically and emotionally from being placed in multiage classrooms.
(compiled by H. Mattern and R. Yates-3/95)