A combination class is combining two grade levels in one class. This configuration exists in many of our elementary schools. Combination classes are a common occurrence, so it is important to understand why and how they are formed and how they work.
Why do we have combination classes?
Combination classes are simply the result of how many students come to a school at a given grade level. Students, however, don’t come to us in neat numbers. When we have too many students for two single grade level classes and not enough for three, a combination class must be created. Numbers of students at one grade level also affect every other grade level in the school, so combination classes reflect the total school enrollment. The school principal must look at the total enrollment when setting up grade level configurations for the entire school.
How are students assigned to combination classes?
Principals and teachers assign all students based on their professional assessment of where and with whom a child will have the greatest opportunity for success. All of our classes – combination and single grade level – are heterogeneously grouped. In each classroom, there are students of varying ages, abilities, and achievement, as well as at different stages of physical, social and emotional development. Within each class, students may be grouped and regrouped to meet individual needs, interests, and learning styles, or to capitalize on individual and group strengths. Each student is assigned to a class combination or single grade level only after careful thought and discussion by the principal and teachers as to the best educational placement.
How do combination classes differ from single level classes?
In reality, they don’t. Students assigned to combination classes receive the complete curriculum appropriate to their grade level, as do the students in single grade level classes. All students have opportunities to extend their learning based on individual abilities and achievement. All students have learning and play experiences in which they function independently or cooperatively in groups. In all classes, teachers will work with the whole class and at times work with students in small group or individually. A key component to a combination classroom is the emphasis on sense of community. The closer the community atmosphere, the more secure the children feel.