A combination class is formed when students from two consecutive grades are placed in one classroom under the supervision of one teacher. Students in combination classes receive their respective grade-level assignments and all appropriate grade-specific curricula.
Combination Classes: Why are they necessary?
Combination classes are formed in order to equalize class size and to avoid overcrowding. State law limits class sizes at different grade levels. In addition, it is the policy of the Capistrano Unified School District to maintain reasonable and similar enrollment in each classroom so that all students may receive adequate individualized assistance.
These factors often make it necessary to establish combination classrooms in order to implement State law, provide reasonable-size classes, and stay within the District’s financial budget.
How are students selected for placement in a combination class?
Teachers and administrators carefully select the students to be assigned to a combination class. They review the student’s academic success, ability to work responsibly and independently, as well as, the child’s ability to work cooperatively with other students.
How are students taught in a combination class?
The core curriculum for all students is based on State, Common Core State Standards and District Standards. Grade level standards are the foundation of all instruction. In the basic skill areas of reading, language, spelling, and mathematics, students are grouped according to skill levels using grade-appropriate materials and textbooks.
In the social sciences, concepts are often introduced to the entire class with follow-up activities assigned in grade level texts. Students in combination classes always have access to books, materials, technology and other resources regularly designated for both grade levels.
Do students progress well in combination classes?
Throughout the years it has been necessary to have many combination classes in schools in the Capistrano Unified School District. Students’ achievement in these classrooms, as measured by standardized tests, equals the achievement in single-grade classrooms.
In addition, research has established that:
- Combination classes are particularly effective when the participating students are carefully selected.
- Combination classes may have a more positive impact on social growth and the development of independent learning skills than single grade classes.
Mason, D. & Doepner, R. (1998). Principals’ Views of Combination Classes. Journal of Educational Research, 91, 160-172.
Stimson, J. (1992). Combination Classes: Helpful or Harmful? Thurst for Educational Leadership, 16-19.
Veenman, S. (1995). Cognitive and Noncognitive Effects of Multigrade and Multi-age Classes: A Best Evidence Synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 65, 319-381.
How can parents help their child?
In order to facilitate a successful and rewarding school year, as a parent you can:
- Encourage your child to take pride in his/her classroom and take advantage of the unique opportunities available in a combination class.
- Visit your child’s classroom to learn about the instructional program, the teacher and the other students in the class.
- Encourage your child to develop friendships and a positive attitude, just as she/he would when assigned to a single-grade classroom.