FAQs about Madrona

Q:  What does “nongraded” mean?

A:  Madrona is called a “nongraded” school not because no grades are issued, but because children are not put into traditional Grades as in most other schools.  Instead, children are put into “Centers”, which are multiage classrooms that hold 3 grade levels.

Q:  What is a Center?

A:  A Center is a classroom consisting of 2 teachers who team-teach around 50 kids, covering 3 grade levels.  A Primary Center consists of grades 1 – 3; an Intermediate Center covers grades 4 – 6; Middle School comprises 7th and 8th grades.

Q:  What about Kindergarten?

A:  Kindergarten is many children’s first experience of school.  As such, children entering Kindergarten are not integrated into Primary Centers, so that they can become accustomed to the culture of school.

Q:  What’s the difference between nongraded and combined classrooms?

A:  Combined classrooms consist of 2 or more groups that are each being taught their grade-level curriculum.  Nongraded classrooms contain children who are learning at one or more grade level.  For example, a child may excel at math, but be not very strong in reading.  In a Primary classroom, a first year student might therefore be learning math with second year kids, but read with other first year students.  Social studies, science, and art are taught on a 3-year rotation, so each child experiences that portion of his/her education only once.

Q:  Are 7th and 8th Grades handled the same way as Primary and Intermediate centers?

A:  At Madrona’s Middle School, with the exception of math, all classes are taught on a 2-year rotation.  Placement in math classes is dependent on standardized test performance and classroom performance in the lower grades.

Q:  Can anybody go to Madrona?

A:  Any student who lives within the boundaries of the Edmonds School District is eligible to attend Madrona.  Madrona, along with its sister school, Maplewood Parent Cooperative, is a so-called “choice” school in the Edmonds School District:  parents make the choice to send their children away from their neighborhood school.

Q:  Do kids get a “different” education at Madrona than at other schools in Edmonds?

A:  As a public school, Madrona adheres to the curriculum guidelines set by the State of Washington and the Edmonds School District.  Madrona children take the standardized tests administered by the State.   Kids in the Edmonds School District enjoy the flexibility offered teachers by the District in that they are not constrained by specific texts or curriculum materials in many areas.  Madrona teachers take full advantage of this flexibility by offering students a wide range of sources from which to learn.

Q:  50 kids sounds like a lot of children in one classroom.  How can so many kids learn well together?

A:  The only way multiage and nongraded can work is if children have both a lot of support from home and in the classroom, and are able to work independently.  In any Primary Center on any given day, there can be 20 different reading or spelling levels represented.  Kids love being responsible for their education, and knowing that they can direct the pace of their learning without pressure to conform to a group’s needs.  Parent and student volunteers are fundamental to the success of this diversity in the classroom.

Q:  What kind of volunteering is welcome?

A:  Family members of our students are strongly encouraged to volunteer as much as they are willing and able.  Some family members can volunteer during the day; others do behind-the-scenes work; while others support social or cultural activities.  The goal in Kindergarten and Primary Centers is to have no fewer than 2 volunteers in the classroom all the time.  Classroom volunteers help with art and science projects, organize parties, read with kids, coach math, and generally relieve the teachers of the tasks that would keep them from teaching.

Q:  How do I volunteer?

A:  Everyone who comes in contact with children must complete a registration packet and a Washington State Patrol questionnaire.  Once this has been done, volunteers talk to the volunteer coordinators in their children’s classrooms or on a school-wide level.  In most cases, volunteers are given the opportunity to volunteer on a scheduled or as-needed basis.

Q:  How do I enroll my child at Madrona?

A:  There are more children who would like to attend Madrona than there are spots at the school.  Therefore, Madrona operates a lottery to pick the children who attend.  Younger siblings of current students have a preference over children who will be the first representative of their family at the school.

Q:  How do I participate in the lottery?

A:  You must take a tour of the school and complete the lottery paperwork in order to have your child’s name put in the lottery.  Each child is assigned a number, and if his/her number is drawn, families have around 2 weeks to decide if they will accept the placement.

Q:  When is the Kindergarten lottery?

A:  The first Kindergarten lottery happens right after the Edmonds School District’s Information Fair, generally in mid-January.  In each drawing, enough numbers are drawn to fill all forecasted slots.  Families are notified and have 2 weeks to decide whether they accept.  If they decline, their child’s slot is held open until the next lottery drawing.  Lottery drawings are held until all slots are filled.

Q:  Is there a lottery for older kids?

A:  Yes.  Because student-to-teacher ratios change as children get older, more children are added to Centers for Primary and Intermediate levels.  Also, families move or change their plans, which creates a need to hold a lottery for their kids’ slots.

Q:  When is the lottery for older kids?

A:  The lottery for older children does not happen until after the Kindergarten spaces have been filled.  The first drawing for older children is normally held in May.

Q:  What happens if my child’s name is not picked?

A:  Your child’s name remains in the lottery until you withdraw it.  His/her numbered ticket ages along with his/her cohort and can be drawn at any time.