Stat Buddies, a program created in the mid-1990s that promoted inclusive education across grade levels for 20 years, is ending in an effort to streamline school spending.

“Stat Buddies is being phased out at the end of the year,” a former teaching colleague said in a text. “Would you like to come for the final session?”

“I’ll be there,” I replied.

On a mid-April Tuesday, I entered an elementary school in the Boone Community School District where I taught from 1985 – 2003, and spent an hour observing fourth graders and high schoolers engaged in Stat Buddies, the collaborative program Jeff Wells and I created in the mid-1990s. The history of Stat Buddies, an explanation of why it’s ending, and pictures of the program in action can be found in a very nice article in The Boone News Republican.

Memories of the years Jeff and I brought our students together flooded back as fourth graders and high school students crawl around on the floor sorting and analyzing data. As I watched, I was struck by the many ways Stat Buddies promoted inclusiveness.

  • It was equally appropriate for high school upperclassmen and fourth graders.
  • Children were out of their seats involved in active learning.
  • Visual cues made the concepts accessible to emerging readers.
  • The program used concrete, hands on information to teach abstract concepts.
  • Children who received special education services could be easily integrated.

When Jeff and I developed the program in the 1990s, our primary goal wasn’t inclusiveness, but creating a rigorous activity that promoted interactions across grade levels. But as experienced educators know, good teaching is good teaching is good teaching, whatever the subject and whatever the age of the students.

I’m a little sad that a program that benefited students across grade levels for more than 2 decades is being cut. But I’m eager to see what a new generation of inventive educators, with more resources available than ever before, will devise to turn the delivery of ordinary curriculum requirements into into extraordinary learning experiences that meet the needs of all learners.

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