Why Choose SJA?

Academic-Convocation-at-St.-James-AcademySt. James Academy is intentionally a K-8 school with a strong curriculum that builds upon each year, preventing gaps or holes and ensuring nine consistent years of academic preparation.

Although children are welcome to enter St. James at any grade level, there are several key advantages offered by a K-8 curriculum:

  • Educator and advisor communication and collaboration within and across all grade levels allows teachers to really understand each child
  • A process throughout the middle school years that leads students to develop and become more firmly aware of what they desire in a high school experience
  • Enhanced feelings of safety and confidence built through daily involvement
  • Middle School students rise to the expectation of leadership in the SJA community going on to leadership roles in high school and beyond
  • Access to our respected placement team that works in partnership with independent, parochial, public schools to find a high school “match” that recognizes your child’s unique gifts and achievements

“We do not allow a textbook to drive our curriculum, nor do we teach to a test.”

— Lori Dembo, Lower School Head

Research into brain development has shown that much activity takes place in the early adolescence period.  This period is extremely important in what a student chooses to “use or lose”  as illustrated in this interview with Dr. Jay Giedd at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md.

Benefits of K-8 Education

Keith Look, a researcher for the Philadelphia Education Fund, further reinforces that middle grades students in a K-8 school behave differently than in a middle school.  They take on the role of protector and role model as opposed to having to establish new reputations upon entering middle school.  Look also found that K-8 schools enhance students’ social capital and create greater opportunities for success by building relationships with staff and peers over a course of nine years.

Research done by Cheri Pierson Yecke for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute discussed results from separate studies in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Baltimore concerning academic achievements in different school models.  All three studies demonstrated quantifiable positive results when comparing the outcomes of students who attended K-8 schools versus the traditional K-5 then 6-8 environment.  Students showed higher academic achievement and significantly higher scores on standardized tests.  They also had higher levels of participation in extracurricular activities, demonstrated greater leadership skills, and were less likely to be victimized than those in the elementary/middle school setting.  They were more likely to be enrolled in selective high school programs and demonstrated a higher GPA in 9th grade.