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First class completes 'looping' program

Posted: June 7, 2008 12:44 a.m.
Updated: August 8, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 
A group of eighth graders at Rio Norte Junior High just completed a two-year experiment involving an educational concept called "looping."

Simply put, looping is the practice of allowing a classroom teacher to "promote" with his or her class of students to the next grade, so that a team of students stays with the same teacher for both seventh and eighth grades.

"There are students who, for them, knowing who their teacher is going to be next year helps them to relax and then they perform better," said Kathy Reiche, one of the teachers on the looping team. "Plus the kids become more comfortable with one another, and the quieter kids come out of their shell more."

The traditional middle school model has always placed an emphasis on building relationships and promoting the social and emotional development of each student.

"A lot of research supports that, in junior high, making that social/emotional connection is critical," Reiche said.

The benefits of looping include teachers getting to know a student's learning style; improved teacher-parent communication; providing students with a feeling of stability; and increased test scores.

The disadvantages include over familiarity between teachers and students, and the possibility of staying two years with a teacher that the parent feels is not meeting the student's needs.

"If there's a situation where the student and teacher just don't connect, they have the choice to opt out," Reiche said.

The students who have been on Reiche's team the past two years have enjoyed the program.

"The kids say that they feel more comfortable in class, and they speak up more and they risk more," she said.

Reiche's team was the first group to try out the new concept.

"We had promotion last night and we said good-bye to students we'd had for two years," Reiche said. "It was kind of emotional."

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