YORK, Pa., -- The York City School District is trying a new pilot program to help improve student academics and performance district-wide.
The new initiative, called 'looping,' is first being tested at Devers Elementary School, but will be implemented district-wide in grades K-8 in the 2017-2018 school year.
"Essentially students stay with a teacher, they build relationships with a teacher and they maintain that relationship longer than the traditional amount of time," explained Erin James, district spokesperson.
This year at Devers, 3rd and 4th grade students stay with the same teachers and classmates for 2 years, focusing on a project-based learning style.
"Everyone has different learning styles and with looping we`re able to better meet those needs of our kids in a better way," said Angela Ashley, Assistant Principal.
The new strategy is part of the school's financial recovery plan after the district faced money problems in 2012. The goal is to enhance student performance and achievement, in turn, continuing to improve district finances.
"With the looping concept we`re engaging students, we`re having them posed higher level questions, they are able to be creative in what they`re doing in the classroom and also have an opportunity to express themselves," explained Ashley.
So far, both teachers and administrators say they are seeing a major difference in the classroom, both academically and socially.
"It takes some of the anxiety off at the beginning of the year," said teacher Kelly Petry. "Whenever this class stayed together as a whole unit and came to this room, you can tell they are closer."
"The kids are excited, they are engaged in their activities and the behavior issues have declined significantly," said Ashley.
Next year, the district will expand looping district-wide in grades K through 8, using this year to work out the kinks and adjust to the new needs of a project-based classroom.
"When we look at the structure and setup of our looping classrooms verses the traditional classrooms, I think that`s what we really hone in on is the expenses for different types of items, tables verses individual desks, things like that," explained Ashley.
Those are expenses worth the cost of providing students a quality education.
"We want the students of York City to be as successful as their potential and we`re not going to stop working at that until we make sure every kid is meeting his or her potential," said James.