Looping was first formally proposed as an educational strategy by Rudolf Steiner, philosopher
and founder of Waldorf Schools in Germany, a hundred years ago. Looping is still practiced in
Waldorf schools today (including the Waldorf School of Orange County –located in Costa Mesa). Deborah Meier, New York City Educator began using looping in 1974, introducing it to American public schools. Research first appeared in the 1990s. A few large scale studies continue to be conducted currently, with a resurgence in interest in recent years. The following are the researched benefits and concerns regarding the practice.
Description of the Practice of Looping
Looping is when a teacher advances to a higher grade along with the students.
The practice is largely used in elementary and middle schools.
Waldorf schools have teachers loop from 1-8 grade.7
There is evidence that Montessori schools and other private schools also utilize
Documentation suggests public schools use looping for as little as 2 years, sometimes
extending from 1-8 grade.6,9,10,11,12
Looping during middle school years has been documented, as well.6, 11.
No evidence of looping in High School was found.
Studies mention that teachers are often either given a choice to loop or have teacher
teams that loop with a student group.
Benefits of Looping
Improved relationship between students and between teacher and students.(all citations)
Many documented social-emotional gains, and parent involvement.1,2,3
More efficient instruction: a gain of almost a month of teaching time in second year,
since time for getting acquainted is eliminated and less review is needed.1,2,3
Improved student discipline/classroom management.1
Higher attendance rates. 5,12
Improved test scores particularly benefiting females and minorities.9,11,12
Teacher gains such as opportunities for innovation were also mentioned.2
Concerns Around Looping
The main concern is the possibility of a bad match between teachers and pupils, or
among individual students or groups of students. 1,2,3
The possibility of having to put-up with a poor teacher for multiple years.
Finally, articles suggest that looping provides a structure to allow for certain positive outcomes,
but not the cause of positive outcomes. Also studies suggest that looping thrives in the context
of teacher buy-in and administrator support. (Please note: References for footnotes found in
attached Lit Review Matrix. Please see in attached Lit Review and articles for further information).
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