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ASD considers whether middle school should include 6th grade

Should Anchorage sixth-graders attend elementary or middle school?

The Anchorage School District is holding a series of community discussions next week as it tries to answer that question.

Currently, seven of Anchorage's 10 middle schools enroll students in grades seven and eight.

At three middle schools -- Begich, Clark and Mirror Lake -- students grades six through eight attend.

But as the district prepares to renovate aging middle school facilities, it needs to make a decision about whether schools should be remodeled to fit sixth-graders in the future, or whether those students should stay in elementary buildings.

ASD hired DeJong-Richter, an Ohio-based "educational facility planning firm," to study the question.

Researchers have compared test scores of sixth-graders in elementary versus middle school settings, reviewed demographic information and considered the financial impact of building renovations, among other factors, the district said.

The study cost "less than $200,000," wrote Michael Graham, the district's chief academic officer, in an email.

Results will be presented at three meetings next week. The public is encouraged to attend and comment.

• Tuesday at Central Middle School, 1405 E St.
• Wednesday at Gruening Middle School, 9601 Lee St.
• Thursday at Mears Middle School, 2700 W 100th Ave.

The meetings are set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Any changes would require Anchorage School Board approval. The school board will discuss the issue and make a decision in October, Graham said.

"If the board decides to make a change, it would be at least a year before anything could happen," he said.

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