What is the Sixth Grade Academy?
The Medford School District is excited to launch the Sixth Grade Academy, an opportunity for sixth graders to access the middle school experience, starting in the fall of 2018. The program will be open to up to 120 sixth graders at both McLoughlin and Hedrick Middle Schools and will expand the 6th grade at Ruch Community School.
What are the Goals of the Sixth Grade Academy?
- Provide sixth graders with access to the middle school experience while still offering a sheltered setting for most of the day.
- Allow sixth graders to take higher-level math on-site, band and orchestra within the school day, and explore extra-curricular activities, competitions, and clubs.
- Provide opportunities for sixth graders to participate in more athletics: specific sports to be determined, but possibly cross country, track and wrestling.
- Afford more space at local elementary schools to alleviate the pressure of growing enrollment in some MSD elementary schools.
- Provide more choice to families.
Has this been done before?
A similar program, the Sixth Grade Pilot, launched successfully in 2001, and was in place until 2004. In 2015, the MSD launched a task force of staff, parents, and community members to analyze the potential benefits and drawbacks of moving sixth graders to middle school. After research and discussion, the task force recommended that sixth graders be moved, but gradually.
The district has been in discussion of building another middle school, but its long-range facilities plan calls for using all available space and resources prior to going to voters for a bond. The school district will be investing in some additional staffing, technology, lockers, as well as making some room modifications in preparation for the Sixth Grade Academy.
What will it look like?
Students will have a similar daily schedule as the rest of the middle school. While the students will be somewhat sheltered with a separate lunch, locker area, etc., we will aim to mirror more of a typical middle school experience where students will have a team of teachers who will be providing instruction in specific subject area(s). Students will participate in electives with other teachers such as band or orchestra, or PE. An elective may be taught by one of the core sixth grade teachers. Electives may or may not include 7th graders, depending on enrollment and staffing determined later in the spring.
We have several in-district teachers who are very excited about this teaching opportunity, and we will be selecting teachers sometime in early February so that they can participate in the parent information nights at each middle school.
What about transportation?
A student must be eligible for transportation (following middle school guidelines which is 1.5 miles or more from home) in the attending area. Transportation will be provided at the normal middle school times and established bus stops.
How will my child be selected?
Medford School District is committed to a fair and nondiscriminatory random lottery process.
How will the Lottery Work?
- Each elementary school will be assigned a number spots in the Sixth Grade Academy based on projected enrollment.
- Each elementary school will have a separate lottery.
- If the number of applicants exceeds the number of spots available for that school, then we will randomly draw names to fill those spots.
- If one student selected has a same grade sibling in the same household, that student will also receive a spot.
- Each elementary school will also have a separate wait list.
- Non-Medford residents will be placed in a separate lottery and randomly drawn as space is available.
Dec. 14, 2017
The Medford School District is excited to launch 6th Grade Academy, an opportunity for 6th graders to access the middle school experience, starting in the fall of 2018.
The program will be open to up to 120 sixth graders at both McLoughlin and Hedrick Middle Schools and will expand the 6th grade at Ruch Community School. A similar program, the 6th Grade Pilot, launched successfully in 2001 and was in place until 2004.
“We hope 6th Grade Academy will offer more choice for families,” said Director of Elementary Student Achievement Jeanne Grazioli. “Students will have access to higher level math, a greater variety of academic competitions, more PE and athletic offerings, as well as band and orchestra during the school day.”
In 2015, the MSD launched a task force of staff, parents, and community members to analyze the potential benefits and drawbacks of moving 6th graders to middle school. After research and discussion, the task force recommended that 6th graders be moved, but gradually. Some voiced concerns that 6th graders may not be developmentally ready for middle school, which is why the 6th Grade Academy will provide a sheltered model for 6th graders, similar to a school within a school.
Another benefit to 6th Grade Academy is that it will alleviate the pressure of growing enrollment in some MSD elementary schools. The district will give first priority to students from elementary schools with space constraints due to high enrollment and will use a lottery if there’s more applicants than expected.
“If all the seats become full, we will develop a waiting list,” said Grazioli. “If we don’t get as many applicants as expected, we will look at the design of the program and adjust. We’ll need to be somewhat nimble throughout the process.”
The district has been in discussion of building another middle school, but its long-range facilities plan calls for using all available space and resources prior to going to voters for a bond.
“We’re a growing district and we’re looking at many expanded options for our K-12 families,” said Grazioli.
Fifth grade families will receive more information, including applications for 6th Grade Academy, in January.