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Exploring Grade Level Centers

At WCS we are always looking for ways to better meet the needs of our students and to improve the quality of education that we provide. This Fall we began actively studying the feasibility of creating Grade Level Centers in our elementary buildings to better address the needs of each and every student.

We know that you will have lots of questions, so we want to invite you into our process and provide parents the opportunity to help us in this evaluation stage. In this newsletter we'll share a little background on Grade Levels Centers and how they can positively impact learning. We'll also share the progress that has been made by our steering committee and give you an opportunity to share your questions and concerns with us during this process.

What are Grade Level Centers and why should we change?

What is a Grade Level Center?  Currently, our elementary buildings are populated by geographic area. A Grade Level Center (GLC) is populated according to student grade level.  There are a number of compelling educational benefits to this type of structure:

Allows for increased collaboration with grade level teachers

  • Experts on grade level together for collaboration and team mentoring

  • Focus on grade level expectations

  • All grade level teachers focused on standards and consistent assessment measures

  • Collaboration with all grade level teachers for project based learning, sharing innovative ideas and best teaching strategies

Builds student community

  • Students connect with all students in grade level bands throughout school

  • All students identify collectively as a Wilmington Student

  • Students have increased opportunity to connect with various students throughout school

  • Students are connected together prior to the crucial middle school developmental age

Maximizes our resources

  • Provides the ability to balance class sizes among all grade levels

  • Allows us to focus curriculum resources, learning equipment, teaching materials to be shared and distributed among all grade level teams

Utilizes grade level experts

  • Teachers, Counselors, Paraprofessionals, Psychologists, Administrators, Coaches, Title Teachers

    • Each building allows the staff to be focused on the particular learning, and social/emotional needs of that particular grade level bands.  (moved from 2-3 levels instead of 6)

Provides equity and access

  • Eliminates any perceived stigma or labels to a particular Elementary Building

  • When living arrangements and child care needs change, it allows the student to remain in the same building (family moves, foster care placements, changes in babysitters, homeless families, etc)

Ultimately, the goal is to improve the educational experience for all our students and to increase learning and achievement. It's about more than improving our State Report Card, it's about actively seeking ways to provide a superior education for each and every child in our community.

Our Steering Committee and Our Process

This Fall we created a GLC Steering Committee of teachers, parents, administrators, bus drivers, and Board Members to begin exploring the feasibility of creating Grade Level Centers at our elementary buildings. This committee has been working hard and asking lots of questions.  

We recognize that in order to proceed with this project we first need to identify any and all potential challenges and measure their impact on providing the best education for our students. On December 13th our committee members invited additional parents to attend and to provide insight and feedback.

Some of the topics that are currently being addressed include:

Grade level groupings

Building attributes and student needs

Transportation/Bus Routes

The process is challenging, but the end result could mean taking a giant step forward in creating a superior educational experience for each and every student attending Wilmington City Schools.

We know that parents will have questions and concerns, and they are an important and valued part of this process. We encourage you to reach out to us by using the form link that can be found in this email, as well on our District website.

What does this mean for WCS elementary buildings?

When considering possible grade level groupings for our buildings several things were considered:

  • Continuity for students

  • Availability and flexibility of classroom space

  • Structure of the current building to accommodate age levels

While no final decisions have been made, the committee is currently evaluating the feasibility of the configuration below.


Grade Levels





5th Grade

  • Structure of the building/stairs

  • Special focus on 5th grade transition to Middle School

  • 5th grade mentors to Preschool children

East End


1st, 2nd

  • 3 years of continuity of school at the primary level

  • Primary grades together


3rd, 4th, and


  • Critical grade levels together for reading acquisition

  • Intermediate levels together without the range of 3rd to 5th

Denver Place

Please keep in mind, that we are are only part of the way through this process. There are hurdles and challenges that must be addressed before moving forward. If the committee feels comfortable that concerns have been addressed then we can begin planning the logistics of making this move for the beginning of the 2018-19 school year. If faced with challenges that are too big to overcome in that time frame, then implementation will be pushed back to allow for more planning.

Do you have questions and/or concerns?

Students aren't the only ones that get to ask questions!  We know that change is often uncomfortable, particularly when it comes to our children.

As WCS parents, grandparents, and guardians you are an integral part of the educational process and we want to invite you to help us with this process.

Please take a moment, after reading through the information we have provided, and consider sharing your questions and/or concerns using any of the communication methods listed:

We will continue to update you on our progress through various communication channels over the next few months through face-to-face meetings, local media, social media, printed newsletters, and other avenues to keep the lines of communication open.

link to grade level center response form

As WCS parents, grandparents, and guardians you are an integral part of the educational process and we want to invite you to help us with this process.

Please take a moment, after reading through the information we have provided, and consider sharing your questions and/or concerns using the form link above.

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