Why K-8?

The Benefits of a K-8 School


Data shows that students who attend K-8 and PreK-8 schools like The Grosse Pointe Academy, feel safer, have more leadership opportunities and experience an easier high-school transition. But why?

The article “Do Middle Schools Make Sense?”, published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, states that K-8 environment creates more stability during a crucial time in a child’s life where they are going through the social, hormonal and psychological changes of adolescence. A 2018 NYU study shows that K-8 students have more positive views of their academic abilities, as well as a stronger sense of community. All of these factors ultimately lead to an easier high-school transition.

 A 2016 K-8 study led by Michah W. Rothbart followed 90,000 students in over 500 schools over a three-year period. In an NPR article, Rothbart discussed his findings and what he calls a “top dog/bottom dog” effect. In K-8 schools, tweens and young teens were “top dogs” – “the oldest, the most comfortable and familiar with the school.” But in traditional middle schools and 6-12 schools, this same age group became “bottom dogs.” What’s the significance? “Researchers found that when students were not the ‘bottom dogs,’ they reported feeling safer, less bullying, less fighting and a greater sense of belonging.”

Research (including the NYU study) also shows that another benefit to the K-8 model is more leadership opportunities. Because of the larger gap between older and younger kids, 7th and 8th grade students are prepared as leaders, often teaming up with younger kids for tutoring or mentoring. The Grosse Pointe Academy, for example, implements a “buddy” system, pairing older and younger students who participate together in various activities throughout the year, including field trips, read-alouds, art projects and STEM activities.

The benefits of a K-8 model extend beyond safety, easier high-school transitions and leadership. Studies also point to stronger teacher-student relationships (thus leading to a more student-centered approach to teaching), higher attendance and lower suspension rates than traditional 6-8 models, and may also contribute to higher academic achievement, specifically in math and reading.*

Data aside, there are benefits to all grade configurations and many factors that contribute to a school’s success, including class size, curriculum and faculty. To learn more about The Grosse Pointe Academy and our PreK-8 model, please contact us at 313.886.1221 or fill out the form below.

 Recommended Reading

“Do Middle Schools Make Sense?” – Harvard Graduate School of Education

“The Scientific Case Against Middle Schools” – Fatherly.com

“6th Grade is Tough – It Helps to be ‘Top Dog’” –  NPR

*According to a study by Dr. Robert Offenberg published in The American Journal of Education, 2009.