Why TK – 8

Studies suggest that parents choose K – 8 or TK – 8 schools for a variety of reasons. Here are six:

#1 – Students in TK – 8 schools maintain higher academic achievement.

In 2004-2005, two important reports were published: Mayhem in the Middle – How Middle Schools have failed America – and how to make them work (Fordham Institute), and Focus on the Wonder Years; Challenges Facing the American Middle School (Rand Education). Both of these reports noted a drop in achievement between 4th and 8th grade on a national scale. Both reports referred to research concluding that “students in K-8 schools scored significantly higher than their MS counterparts on standardized achievement measures in reading, language arts, and math.  Moreover, the Fordham report concluded that “there is clear evidence that the K-8 model has a significant positive effect on academic achievement, openness to learning, and student behavior.”

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#2 – Teachers in TK – 8 schools are there for a simple reason: they love the kids.

Too often, teachers in middle divisions of K – 12 schools are simply waiting for the ‘promotion’ to high school. By contrast, teachers who work in the TK-8 setting make a conscious choice to do so because they love to teach kids this age. In addition, they are experts in their social, emotional and physical needs.6 LA

#3 – Students in TK – 8 schools have opportunities for real leadership.

In K-12 schools, 7th and 8th graders are caught in the middle. By contrast, in TK – 8 schools, these students lead the school in a variety of important ways. At TDS, all of our students are involved in leadership in one form or another: representing their classes on the Student Council, acting as morning greeters, serving as admissions ambassadors for prospective families, designing the yearbook, serving as buddies to their younger peers, and so many more.

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#4 – Families in TK – 8 schools can make an informed choice about high school.

Entering kindergarten, it is impossible for parents to know which type of high school will be a good fit for their child. A TK – 8 school allows for re-evaluation and high school choice at end of 8th grade, when:

  • students are ready for transition and a new environment
  • parents are more informed about their children as learners
  • students can be involved in the decision making process
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#5 – TK – 8 schools provide safe, nurturing environments in which kids can hold onto their innocence, particularly in Middle School.

Without the pressures of high school, Middle School students can feel free to be silly and awkward, and they can continue to grow in a safe environment. The onset of risky decision making, and the accompanying peer pressure, is delayed in TK – 8 schools.
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#6 – Without a high school, all of the school’s resources are directed toward the younger grades.

High schools are complicated and expensive to run, and as a result K – 12 schools are top-heavy. By contrast, the lower and middle divisions get 100% of the time, attention, and financial resources at TDS.