I need expert opinions on the benefits of having younger and older kids in the same elementary school building.
Our town is considering breaking up the three separate K-6 schools into one building for K-1, another for 2-4 and another building for 5-6. I am against this and need help forming an argument for leaving the school building as is (K-6). There must be benefits to this structure versus the proposed one.
First, congratulations on being a proactive member of your community. There may be other considerations in the move your school district is planning. However, it is always good to gather as much information as possible to inform the decision.
There is a good deal of evidence that mixed-age grouping has a number of benefits. Primarily, the benefits are seen in what is known as "pro-social" behavior: helping, sharing, and taking turns, for example.
Younger children will model their behavior on the more socialized older students and older students will generally be protective of younger students.
This benefit extends to at-risk students, as well, as they will be less likely to exhibit aggression towards the younger students and gain a self-esteem boost from being a role-model.
This dynamic also has academic benefits. Younger students receive tutoring from older children and the older students gain the "teacher" benefit: by explaining a concept to someone else, they better understand and internalize the concept themselves.
Below I've linked some articles with citations for studies that will help you make your case.
Most of these studies examine the benefits of grouping multiple age levels in the same classroom, however, it may be reasoned that these benefits will apply to mixed-age grouping within the school building to some extent.
I can see why you'd be for keeping schools k-6 as looking back at my elementary school days remember looking up to many of my older peers as role models and teachers (however this can be a double edged sword if the older students depending on who younger children choose to look up to).
While this is an excerpt from an article regarding the benefits of "smaller" schools, there are several references to the strengths of peer to peer learning from older to younger students, as well as potential benefits from sharing more responsibilities and expectations given to older students. Here's a quick quote and a link to the article. Hope this helps!
"Cross-age mixing of students allows younger students exposure to lessons and expectations of older students as well as opportunities to receive personalized tutoring from them."
"Younger pupils became fully aware of what was expected of them in the next grade because they could see and hear older children working on advanced lessons." -Bruce O. Barker