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On Sept. 28 a reader wrote a letter to the editor and expressed concern about her child leaving Sierra Elementary for Oberon Middle as a sixth grader instead of seventh grader.Jeffco Public Schools is shifting to a middle school model, where sixth graders attend middle schools instead of elementary schools. Some may wonder why the district is making this shift. Here are a few reasons:• Middle schools provide expanded programming and elective options.• We tend to have over-crowding at our elementaries, but capacity at middle schools.• It is estimated this change can allow us to move students out of more than 100 temporary buildings.• Three years in middle school allows a student to settle into the school before transitioning to high school.• The change moves the district toward a much more consistent model of schooling.Thanks to the current Board of Education, Sierra Elementary has finally received much-needed construction upgrade. However, we still have other areas where work needs to be done.Oberon Middle School has the room now, and some minor adjustments will make it even more accommodating – a separate sixth grade entrance, locker areas by grade level, and other significant changes are planned to support this transition and ensure all students have a quality learning environment.We recommend parents and students take advantage of opportunities to learn about the shift:• Visit middle schools – for Oberon alone there are three upcoming opportunities. Inquire with your own school.• Go to parent meetings at both elementary and middle schools to learn about the process.• Take advantage of orientation programs like “8th grade buddies” and “shadow days.”• See the district website for information: www.jeffcopublicschools.org/family_portal/6th_grade_transitionWe understand that change is always difficult, but 75 percent of sixth graders across the U.S. are in middle schools, and this change will bring the district into alignment with best practices for these students.Kristopher Schuh, Interim Chief of Schools, SecondaryKaren Quanbeck, Interim Chief of Schools, ElementaryMarcia Anker, Sixth Grade Transition CoordinatorTara Peña, Principal, Oberon Middle SchoolTroy Brickley, Principal, Sierra Elementary
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