This masters thesis is a qualitative study of several classes described as blended at an urban elementary school in Oregon. . Some of the blended classes were very different from the others and should be called multi-age instead. The blended and multi-age classes differed because of the different philosophies and practices of their respective teachers. Substantial controversy and conflict occurred among the faculty because of these differences. i The research support for nongraded and multi-age classes is much weaker than most authors would have you believe, but there do appear to be some benefits when these classes are well implemented. To get the expected benefits, teachers switching to nongraded or multi-age must use the prescribed curriculum and instructional practices. It takes years to implement a multi-age program successfully and teacher training is necessary. Assessment is currently the weakest area of multi-age programs. Many teachers lack the skills to effectively develop and use student assessments, yet there is little help available to them. The state of Oregon has passed House Bill 3565 into law but has backed away from requiring state-wide implementation of developmentally appropriate practices or multi-age classes. Because of a school funding crisis, it appears that the state will not provide the training and support necessary to achieve large scale success in implementing multi-age classes if a district decides to use them. Piecemeal implementation of a few multi-age classes at a time is very difficult and not likely to succeed.
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