Multi-Age Grouping Guidelines from the American Montessori Society
As you may know, the School Accreditation Commission and AMS Board of Directors have been considering the subject of multi-age grouping over the past year.
Last fall, the AMS School Accreditation Commission created a Multi-Age Grouping Task Force (composed of some commissioners, the chair of the Teacher Educators Section, and some AMS Board members) to recommend a definition of optimal age groupings for all levels of Montessori education and to recommend whether or not a variance should continue to be granted to schools undergoing the AMS school accreditation process if they do not meet the specified age groupings.
The AMS Board of Directors, School Accreditation Commission, Teacher Education Action Commission, and many of our members believe clear communication of and adherence to Montessori principles and standards are essential if Montessori education is to become widely accepted as a quality education choice.
The process was inclusive of the various points of view of our many stakeholders. The School Accreditation Commission considered the discussions and recommendations of the Task Force; research and articles; original writings of Maria Montessori, Nancy McCormick Rambusch, and others; and best practices of accreditation agencies, and made recommendations to the AMS Board of Directors.
At its October 2014 meeting, informed by the recommendations of the School Accreditation Commission, the AMS Board of Directors approved the following decision:
Criterion 3.5 of the School Accreditation Standards and Criteria requiring multi-age groupings at the Infant & Toddler, Early Childhood, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Secondary levels will be upheld for accredited schools and schools seeking accreditation, with no option for a multi-age grouping variance to be granted for classrooms with alternative groupings.* Age groupings must be as follows:
· Infant & Toddler: Children from birth to 3 years of age may be grouped in varying multi-age configurations. A stand-alone classroom serving only 3-year olds does not satisfy this Criterion.
· Early Childhood: a 3-year age group within the range of 2.5 years to 6 years
· Lower Elementary: 6 years to 9 years
· Upper Elementary: 9 years to 12 years
· OR Elementary I-II: ages 6 years to 12 years
· Secondary: the school must offer an age grouping of either 12-14, 14-16, 16-18 years of age OR 12-15, 15-18 years of age
Of utmost consideration and importance was the understanding that multi-age groupings are central to how Montessori is delivered in our schools, how teachers are prepared by our teacher education programs, and which schools are available as practicum sites for our adult learners. The above Criterion is required only for currently accredited schools or schools intending to pursue the process of AMS school accreditation. It is not required for schools at the Initiate, Associate, or Full member levels. Likewise, it is not required for schools that serve as practicum sites for adult learners.
We recognize that the decision may have ramifications for schools that are not yet accredited by AMS and that some schools will be unable to meet this multi-age requirement for accreditation. We are taking this matter extremely seriously and are exploring another standards-based path to recognize quality programs, with a goal of serving and supporting our schools as fully as possible. The criteria for this path is being written and we hope to have it completed sometime early- to mid-2015.
In this age of increased attention to school choice, standards of quality rating by states, and increased scrutiny of teacher preparedness and quality, defining and adhering to quality is of the utmost importance. AMS is here to support our community as we navigate these challenges, find ways to validate quality schools and teacher education programs, and deliver exceptional education.
I hope you will share this communication with your members. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.
*Schools with multi-age grouping variances previously approved by the School Accreditation Commission are grandfathered such that they may maintain the age-grouping(s) for which the variances were granted with a designation that they adhere to a non-traditional Montessori age grouping.
NBA superstar Stephan Curry is a Montessori grad! His mother runs a Montessori school…check out the video AMS has released!
Daniel Goleman (author of “Emotional Intelligence”) has a new book out called “Focus: The Hidden Ingredient in Success” that addresses the major issue of today’s children’s inability to concentrate. Here is an interview with Goleman done by NAIS’ Independent Teacher magazine.
"We cannot create observers by saying 'observe,' but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through education of the senses."