New study highlights the benefits of looping in the elementary grades
- Looping causes student test scores to improve slightly after the second year, but the benefits of looping are greatest for students of color, according to Chalkbeat's coverage of a new study published online this month in the Economics of Education Review.
- Looping proved especially beneficial for teachers who were performing lower overall, suggesting that familiarity with students can help the teacher improve.
- The model costs little to implement and requires no legislative approval. It seems to be effective because it allows for stronger teacher-student-parent relationships, reduces the time teachers and students spend in learning about one another and class routines, and allows for connections between student learning across the years.
An article published in 2000 by the AASA shared an interesting perspective on the idea of looping. The article suggested that administrators consider the disadvantages school leaders would face if they had a complete turnover of employees each year and had to build relationships and establish expectations and protocols for this new group each year. Most teachers experience this same degree of turnover every year in the classroom.
“For most administrators, the idea of 100 percent staff turnover is an unpleasant one to consider,” the article said. “Successful schools (and districts) depend on continuity of staff, curricula and programs from one year to the next in order to continually improve.”
There are many advantages to looping, and some disadvantages as well. The main advantages seem to be familiarity, continuity and stronger relationships between students and teachers. The primary disadvantage springs to a parent’s mind is “What if students are stuck with a 'bad' teacher two years in a row?” This most recent study, however, showed that, if the problem is inexperience, looping actually improves teacher performance. In situations where a teacher-student combination is not a good fit, that child could still be transferred to another classroom.