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Audio: Grade Looping at a Rural Elementary School

Cristal Clark West Portland ESThink of your favorite teacher in elementary school – and now imagine how great it would have been to have that teacher for three years instead of just one. That’s what happens at Portland Elementary School in Portland, Arkansas, where upper elementary students loop with their core academic teachers for three years. And since those subjects are also departmentalized, students also get to work with multiple teachers and change classes during the day. In this audio profile, Principal Cristy West explains that this schedule helps “because teachers are better able to build their relationship with their students … they know exactly where students are as far as the skills they’ve mastered or those they need to work on.” Teachers enjoy the system as well, because they have the chance to teach a subject – such as math or science – through three different grade levels. As principal West puts it, “it gives me a lot of insight into … what [teachers] may need, or where they’re most successful and could share that with someone else.”

Scroll down to listen to the audio profile and learn more about how grade looping works at Portland Elementary School. You can download the transcript here.

Read Portland Elementary School’s 2021 National Blue Ribbon School application.

Contact Information
Portland Elementary School
Mrs. Cristal Clark West, Principal at time of Nomination
314 Highway 160 East
Portland, AR, 71663-0008
(870) 737-4333

Student Demographics 2021
Number of students PreK-5 149
Students eligible for subsidized meals 71%
Students receiving special ed services 8%
ELL 9%
African American students 24%
White students 50%
Hispanic or Latino students 22%
2 or More Races 4%
Student mobility rate 3%