New school building.
Learning Environment

Innovative Ways to Group Students in a New School

With a new school, you can break the rules. Try something other than grouping by grade.

Traditionalists believe that grouping of students by grade level in a school building is the only option. But these are not traditional times when it comes to education. Many schools around the country are experimenting with vastly different ways of putting students together.

Why think about this in the planning stages of a new school? Because some of these strategies might require more or different resources, like common areas. Some might take less. But for your students and community, they might be worth the effort.


Some schools like the idea of having the older students help guide the younger ones, so they organize their schools into multi-grade houses. These houses might have lunch, attend non-core classes, and even compete together against the other houses. Think Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series.


If you’re thinking about moving to a project-based curriculum, you need to think about grouping classrooms by subject area. The beauty of project-based is how interdisciplinary it is. Instead of students having to go across campus to complete the next phase of their project, they can then just go next door.

By language

Perhaps you’re thinking about offering a bilingual immersion component to the new school. If an immersion school still has an English-speaking contingent of students, they tend to group the immersion classrooms together for most activities. That way, the immersion students are truly immersed and the non-immersion students aren’t distracted.

No age-based grading

If you’re thinking about competency-based learning, you might as well start a new school fresh. Some schools are starting to experiment with classes arranged by ability level, not age. In these schools, you might have students within three years of age working together in class. Students are promoted based on achievement and data at regular times throughout the common school year, usually bi- or tri-annually. With every promotion, the community makes a big deal—just like a graduation.

This is a great time in education. Leaders across the country are coming up with creative ways to better serve their students and families with ideas that would have been impossible in the last generation. With a new school building, you can do the impossible as well, just like these high schools have done with their innovative facilities.


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