PBC elementary students face big changes this fall

By Al Pefley - email

West Palm Beach, FL (WFLX) - Big changes are coming to dozens of elementary schools in Palm Beach County.

The plan is for kids in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades to have several different teachers, and change classrooms during the day instead of being taught by just one teacher.

Some are skeptical.

When 3rd, 4th and 5th graders hit the books in August, they'll have not just one teacher but several.

One for math, one for science, and another for reading, maybe another one for social studies. And they'll move from classroom to classroom during the day, just as students in middle school and high school.

Most of the 107 elementary schools in Palm Beach County already use that approach. This fall, all of them will.

"We are trying to ensure that our teachers have the capacity that's needed as well as the instructional knowledge to be able to meet the needs of the students," said Jeffrey Hernandez, chief academic officer with the Palm Beach County School District.

Hernandez says the new approach where kids have several teachers who each specialize in a given subject, which is known as departmentalization,  has worked elsewhere, and he feels it will boost FCAT test scores.

Some parents have doubts about the district's teaching plan for 3rd 4th and 5th graders.

Elizabeth D'Agata of Boca Raton has a daughter who will enter the 5th grade at Hammock Pointe Elementary and another one going into kindergarten. She's skeptical about the plan.

"Just, you know, if it's not broken, why fix it? That kind of thing. I think our school is a great school," D'Agata said.

She feels parents like herself have been kept in the dark, and the district has sprung this on parents at the last minute - just as school is getting out for the summer.

The school district held a meeting Thursdsay night at Del Prado Elementary in Boca Raton to discuss their plans to have 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders change classes and have several teachers. A similar meeting is planned for next week at Addison Mizner Elementary in Boca.