The majority of Seventh-day Adventist schools in North America are small schools with only one, two, or three teachers teaching in multi-grade classrooms. It is natural for parents to wonder if small schools and multi-grade classrooms can provide the same level of quality and achievement that larger schools may.

Between 2006 and 2012, a large research study was conducted that involved 75,000 students to find out. Led by Dr. Elissa Kido of LaSierra University in Riverside, CA, the CognitiveGenesis analysis concluded the following after six years of study:

  1. The one-year achievement growth for students in a multi-grade classroom was very similar to the one-year achievement growth for students in a single-grade classroom. Whatever differences were found were in favor of the student in the multi-grade classroom.
  2. Multi-grade classes, small classes, and small schools are equal to or superior in achievement to single-grade, large classes, and large schools.
  3. Yearly achievement growth in multi-grade classrooms was at least as large and possibly slightly greater than achievement growth in single-grade classes.

While, on the surface, multi-grade classrooms in small schools may appear to be disadvantaged, these advantages more than make up for perceived disadvantages:

  1. More individualized instruction takes place. Instruction can be geared to the specific needs of the student.
  2. Students participate in more self-directed learning.
  3. Student-to-student tutoring and mentoring takes place. This strategy is the “central advantage of the age-mixed classroom” according to researcher Salmon Kahn.
  4. Students in multi-grade schools have higher social skills than pupils in single-grade schools.

A multi-grade classroom actually looks more like the complex world that students will eventually work in. Old and young work together. Teamwork is essential. Variety becomes a creative opportunity rather than an obstacle.


For a more complete analysis, read here.

Share this: