We gripe about what all is wrong with our schools and forget to point out when a community tries to do something right.
Here is an article about a school that focuses on a student's ability instead of focusing on age or grade level.
School Teaches by Ability, not Grade Level
It makes sense to focus on ability instead of age. We know that children are different and develop at different rates in different academic areas. A child might be ready to move ahead in one area while still needing improvement in another. A gifted math student might be delayed in reading. This type of approach allows a child to soar where he is gifted while receiving remediation where improvement is needed. Students are not passed on to the next grade with "gaps" in their learning. Focusing on ability allows a more "individualized" education - an education tailored to fit each child.
There is a local homeschool support group, Tailor Made, which offers support for parents who are trying to give their child a unique or "tailored" education. The founder explained, "You wouldn't buy one-size-fits-all clothing for your child; you would find the clothing that fits him best and alter it when needed." I'm sure she did a better job of explaining it.
I think focusing on individual development instead of age or grade level is a good idea! Grade-less schools deserve an A.
P.S. When I saw the mention of the boy who wasn't sure what grade he was in, I thought that usually it's the homeschoolers who aren't sure what grade they are in. My fourth or fifth grader gets a deer in the headlights look when he's asked what grade he is in. "You are in third grade in reading and sixth grade in math, so I guess that makes you about fourth or fifth grade." Most of the learning materials that I use in my home are not designed for a specific grade level.