• Yulee Middle School cuts more than half of advanced classes

    By: Jenna Bourne , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    Yulee Middle School eliminated more than half its advanced classes this school year.

    Parents tell Action News Jax they did not find out about the change until they saw their children’s schedules last week.

    “I didn’t know what to think when I saw this,” said Yulee Middle School father Jon Martin.

    Friday was the first day of sixth grade for his daughter.

    She’s in the gifted program and was surprised to see no advanced classes on her schedule.

    When Action News Jax first asked Nassau County School District’s Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction and School Improvement, Mark Durham, about the changes on Monday, he said advanced classes would be reinstated because of parent pushback.

    But that did not turn out to be entirely true.

    Instead, Yulee Middle cut all advanced classes for sixth-graders and half its advanced classes for seventh- and eighth- graders.

    Durham admits the school failed to communicate the changes to parents.

    “One of the reasons that we wanted to move to Nassau County is they did have great schools. And so far, it’s been great. But if this is a step in a backward direction, then that’s not something that I’m very happy about,” said Martin.

    More than 200 people have joined a Facebook group called “keep advanced classes in Nassau – Yulee Middle School.”

    “A couple of our middle schools, YMS included, have been ‘B’ schools for the past few years.  We have given their principals some discretion, in scheduling and other matters, to implement innovative and research based practices in an effort to raise the academic achievement levels for ALL students.  We believe, and there is a body of research to support, that mixed ability classrooms are what’s best for students.  We are confident in the abilities of our teachers to differentiate instruction in the classroom to meet the needs of all students,” said Durham in an email to Action News Jax.

    Durham would not agree to an interview.

    Nassau County School District Superintendent Dr. Kathy Burns and School Board Chair Donna Martin did not respond to Action News Jax’s multiple calls and emails since Wednesday.

    When Action News Jax showed up at the school district to get answers for parents, we were told no one could talk to us.

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