Lincoln School, Mundelein, Illinois
Lincoln School in Mundelein, Illinois, is a K-5 multiage school that operates on a year-round calendar. It is a choice school, meaning that all parents living within the boundaries for Mundelein Elementary School District 75 have the choice of enrolling their children in either Lincoln School or the designated neighborhood school for their area. Currently, Lincoln School is nearing its enrollment capacity of 425 students.
The 1997-98 school year marked Lincoln's second year of operation as a multiage school. Classes are configured with first and second grades combined in the primary classes, and third, fourth, and fifth grades combined in the intermediate-level classes. Kindergarten is a self-contained class. The school's statement of beliefs contains a statement on the efficacy of multiage groupings:
"We believe in the concept of multiage groupings. This concept allows children to experience a variety of roles within the school setting. Having students for more than one year allows the teacher to better understand the needs of the individual students and to more effectively provide for their continuous progress. Comfort and security are provided for the students when they are with the same teacher for more than one year."
The Lincoln School model was developed by a District Advisory Research Team (DART) consisting of principals, teachers, the superintendent, parents, and community representatives. DART began to research best practices in education, including multiage practice, in the fall of 1995. The full year was devoted to reading, discussion, visitations to a variety of schools, and guest speakers. A great deal of thoughtful planning and preparation went into the development of Lincoln School's multiage program. A three-year professional development plan was created for Lincoln staff and supplemented by grants. Lincoln school opened as a multiage school in the 1996-97 school year.
The school newsletter, Lincoln News (Lincoln School, 1997), describes Lincoln School's approach to learning:
"The Lincoln School model is comprised of eight interrelated components. The model for learning includes: multiage classrooms, thematic and integrated teaching, multiple intelligences, problem-based learning, and performance-based assessment. This learning model is support by the seamless integration of technology as well as a continuous learning calendar that allows for additional learning opportunities for our children. The Lincoln School model is supported by a highly energized parent involvement team that believes that parents, the school, and the staff are true partners in the educational process." (p. 2)
Our school is arranged by families. Families are comprised of Kindergarten, Primary, and Intermediate classes. Families meet weekly for a variety of learning experiences. This extends the benefits of learning, nurturance, and leadership." (p. 2)
Research has documented the following benefits of the continuous learning calendar: It decreases significant learning loss, which often occurs during long summer breaks; it increases attendance; and it reduces stress.