Call to Action: Share Your Thoughts about AMS’s Definition of Multi-Age Groupings

Call to Action: Share Your Thoughts about AMS’s Definition of Multi-Age Groupings

For Immediate Release

Contact: Sara Wilson, AMS Senior Director of School Accreditation & School Improvement
Phone: No phone calls, please.

American Montessori Society
116 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003-2163

Deadline June 2, 2014

April 28, 2014 — The American Montessori Society School Accreditation Commission (SAC) has created a Multi-Age Groupings Task Force consisting of current commissioners, the chair of the Teacher Educators Section, and AMS Board members to examine how AMS defines multi-age grouping and its impact on AMS’s definition of quality Montessori. While many Montessorians will state that the optimal age grouping for Montessori classrooms is 3 years, there is much discussion about exceptions to that standard.

This issue is central 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.

We need to hear from our members!

The Task Force requests that AMS members submit their opinions and perceptions of AMS’s definition of multi-age grouping to inform their deliberations. Please send your comments to Sara Wilson, for forwarding to the Task Force. Deadline: June 2, 2014.

The Task Force’s work is two-fold:

  • It will recommend to the SAC a definition of optimal age-groupings for the Infant & Toddler, Early Childhood, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Secondary levels.
  • It will recommend to the SAC whether a waiver or variance should ever be granted to schools undergoing the AMS school accreditation process if they do not meet the specified age groupings.

The Task Force will convene via video-enhanced teleconferences and in-person meetings throughout 2014 and we anticipate that the School Accreditation Commission, informed by the work of the Task Force, will make a recommendation to the AMS Board of Directors in October 2014.

As background, AMS defines the optimal multiage grouping through the AMS School Accreditation Standards and Criteria:

Multi-age grouping is an integral part of the Montessori philosophy at all levels. Philosophically, the rationale is that individuals learn from each other with opportunities to lead, share, and serve as role models for their peers. Students can accelerate or take additional time as needed to learn skills. AMS teacher education programs prepare teachers to work with a 3-year age span and to have the expertise to support skills both above and below a developmental level. A 3-year age span is the optimal configuration for early childhood and elementary Montessori classrooms allowing the maximum opportunity for students to interact and learn from one another. AMS acknowledges that for various reasons a 3-year age span may not be possible.

In the past, AMS has allowed schools seeking accreditation to apply for a variance if this specified age span standard is not met. Currently, the School Accreditation Commission has put a moratorium on all variance requests until the AMS Board of Directors votes on the SAC’s forthcoming recommendation.

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