The Stockwell Model Benefits Students of All Abilities

Stockwell Model

Every educator understands that children have different ways of learning. While some students learn more quickly and are considered academically gifted, others need to learn at a slower pace. Regardless of where a student falls within the gradient of learning ability, it’s important that the education they receive is adequate to meet their individual needs. 

At Orchard Academy, we’re happy to welcome students of every skill level and learning style, including those with learning disabilities. Our teachers are specially trained in the Stockwell Method of education, emphasizing the importance of meeting students where they are and helping them achieve excellence on their own terms.


What Is The Stockwell Model?

Developed 25 years ago by Chuck Stockwell, a former elementary school principal and educator with a background in both special education and general education, the Stockwell Model was based on observations made while working with students of varying skill levels and abilities in a traditional academic setting.

“Our whole philosophy is built around a theory: Learning failure is caused by a mismatch between instructional demands and learning readiness. Measuring failure occurs when you ask a child to do something they’re not ready to do -- they don’t have enough prior skills,” Stockwell explains.


Suited For All Abilities

Because the Stockwell Model utilizes mixed-age classrooms and relies on daily evaluations by multiple teachers, the educational technique meets students where they are in terms of ability and education while offering each child an opportunity to learn at their own pace in a safe, inclusive environment. 

“Some kids might be really good in literature or reading but not arithmetic,” Stockwell explains. To combat those inequities, the Stockwell Model utilizes a Continuous Progress Mastery Learning approach. As teachers shift classes throughout the day, students have a chance to overcome their own personal obstacles at a pace that meets each child’s individual needs.

The Stockwell Model aims to have all students, including those with special academic needs, reading at the appropriate grade level by the end of third grade. To accommodate each child’s academic and physical needs and ensure that every student has the tools to succeed, Orchard Academy employs part-time supplemental staff as needed.

“If you’re going to help kids succeed, you’re going to have to have different kinds of experiences for different kids,” Stockwell says. In terms of daily coursework, the traditional letter grading system is avoided in favor of daily evaluations to understand where students are excelling and where they need more work. 


Meet Them Where They're At!

At the Charyl Stockwell Academy in Hartland, Michigan -- the school after which Orchard Academy is modeled -- Stockwell says, “We often get kids that are on the verge of going into special education [programs] and by meeting them where they’re at, we correct that problem.”

In addition to being beneficial to students with special needs and learning disabilities, Stockwell says his educational model can also be beneficial to students that are academically gifted. “Kids get bored because they don’t have the challenges they need, and they can get through work quickly and sometimes get in trouble because they’re not doing things the other kids are doing,” Stockwell explains. As a child’s skills and abilities advance, students are offered the flexibility to move ahead into more advanced coursework and areas of study.

“We’re not trying to get the kid to fit into the curriculum,” Stockwell says. “We’re trying to get the curriculum to fit into the kid.”


Inspiration From Montessori

Drawing inspiration from Montessori’s model of education, the Stockwell Model also takes a strong developmental approach. Coursework and materials are organized in ways that naturally progress into the next lesson or skill that needs to be learned, focusing on cognitive development over time from kindergarten until graduation.

With an emphasis on educating the “whole child,” physical progress is also a feature of the Stockwell Model. Daily outdoor activities are incorporated into the school’s daily curriculum, and a full competitive sports program begins in middle school, emphasizing mastery of motor skills.

Social and emotional mastery is also important in the “whole child” approach, with educators taking the time to teach children how to get along and cooperate with each other in the classroom.

“A lot of kids come to school with no readiness for that kind of order in their lives,” Stockwell says. “So we really look at helping kids get along with each other and learn who they are, what they’re about, what they’re good at. This leads to the formation of their personal identity and their personality.”

The Stockwell Model also emphasizes character development as part of its “whole child” approach to education, with educators working diligently to encourage good moral character and strong values in all students, regardless of age, skill level, or learning ability -- providing students with a strong foundation and a path for life.

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