No matter what grade configuration a school selects, each will have its advantages and disadvantages. There is no one "best" grade level organization. Here is a bird's-eye view of the advantages and disadvantages of a grades 6-9 combination.
- Ninth graders can have a leadership role which they would not enjoy in a senior high school setting.
- The difference in age between age 14 (ninth grade) and age 18 (twelfth grade) is so great that it can be difficult for some ninth graders to adjust.
- Some ninth graders are too young and immature to be placed with senior high school students.
- The four-year stay in one school facilitates better relationships for students, staff, and parents than a shorter stay.
- Sixth graders can profit from a more diversified curriculum and a greater range of facilities than most elementary schools have.
- Ninth graders are more like tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders because most have gone through puberty.
- Separating ninth graders from tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders limits curriculum and extracurricular offerings for them.
- The younger children, especially the sixth graders, may want to imitate the ninth graders and grow up too fast.
- Having to relate to many teachers may mean a difficult adjustment for sixth graders.
- The leadership advantages given to sixth graders in a K-6 plan would disappear.
- Some sixth graders might be better off in the protective environment of an elementary school.
For reference materials, go to the resource center of the National Middle School Association Website. The research summary on grade configuration has an excellent list of references.