The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
The Private School Admission Process (K-9)

Understanding Reclassing

The Benefits of Repeating 8th Grade in Private School

If your child wasn’t accepted to the secondary school he or she was hoping to attend, an extra year in a junior boarding school could be the ideal opportunity to improve academics, practice study skills, and mature emotionally and physically in a structured and supportive setting. Here are a few reasons why repeating 8th grade before attending high school - also known as reclassing- can be a great strategy to foster your child’s healthy development.

What is reclassing? 

While students who repeat a grade in public school generally do so because they didn't meet the requirements to be promoted to the next grade level, private schools find that students most often repeat a grade in order to gain an advantage in secondary school and college. In fact, most private schools don't call it repeating but instead call it reclassing, since students don't repeat exact courses they've already taken. 
Reclassing has become an increasing trend over the past 15-20 years, inspiring articles like this one in the New York Times that noted that St. Paul's School, where one third of graduates had been admitted to at least one Ivy League School in the previous 5 years, saw 22% of its 9th grade students reclass.
Students may choose to reclass for a host of reasons. They may wish to age-norm with the increasing number of students who are a year older than their grade-level peers due to the trend of parents holding children back a year before starting Kindergarten. Another reason parents choose to reclass their children is because their peers are applying from abroad where students are often a year older at each grade level. Parents also opt to reclass because their children will be joining older peers who have already reclassed. Some families cite the ability to take one more year of math or an extra year of AP classes before applying to college as reason enough to reclass.

Personalized attention

In some cases, students who have not been accepted at a private secondary school may have a few areas where they could improve academically. They may have struggled in a particular subject area, earned less-than-stellar scores on standardized tests, or had difficulty organizing and managing assignments. Repeating a grade at a junior boarding school affords a student a full extra year of personalized attention from teachers and administrators. The school will analyze the child’s performance to see where he or she needs extra help, then work with that student to reinforce strengths and make progress in areas of weakness. 

At Fay School, for example, small class sizes ensure that teachers can focus on each student’s progress, and bi-weekly effort grades provide a clear way to give students feedback on their class participation and engagement. 

Structure and support

All students benefit from structure in adolescence as they learn how to meet the expectations of their environment. An extra year in a junior boarding school means more time spent learning key skills like time management, creating a schedule, and balancing academics with a healthy social life. Refining and mastering these skills in a structured environment like a junior boarding school will help students succeed when they move on to secondary school and college. At Fay, for example the Upper School advisory program, where students meet daily in small groups of 6-8 with a faculty member throughout the year, ensures that students don’t “slip through the cracks” and get the support they need to thrive academically and socially.

Physical development

For students interested in participating in sports in high school and beyond, healthy physical development in middle school is critical. Collegiate athletic programs usually have limits to how much time a student can spend as an athlete at the high school level, which means that repeating a year in middle school is the best way to help future college athletes reach their potential. An additional year also gives students time to grow and mature physically, which can offer an advantage when competing against other students in high school. At Fay, where every student participates in the interscholastic athletics program from grades 5-9, the approach is “everyone plays” - which means that there are enough teams to provide appropriate skill development and playing time to all players, from beginners trying a new sport all the way to students who aim to be collegiate athletes down the road.

Further development of English skills

International students may need additional time to hone their English skills in order to strengthen their candidacy for private high school. If this is your child’s challenge, there’s no better way to hone his or her English speaking, reading, and writing skills than an extra year in an immersive language environment with guidance and support. Fay’s English Language Program, for example, provides an intensive one-year experience where students develop their English reading and writing skills while also participating in the regular school program and studying and learning with classmates from over 20 different countries.

Don’t let popular myths get in the way of your child’s development. Repeating 8th grade is not an indicator that a student isn’t on pace with their peers. In fact, it is quite the opposite, and it’s a common solution for many students when transitioning to U.S. schools or to the boarding school environment. Reclassing can be a powerful strategy to prepare your child for success at a private high school and a first-rate college.

Interested in learning more about reclassing your child? Fay School offers rolling admission, so students who begin looking at boarding schools in the spring or who decide after March 10 to reclass are welcome to contact the Office of Admission for more information at or 508-490-8201.

About Fay School

Fay School was founded in 1866 and is the oldest junior boarding school in the United States. Our 66-acre campus is located in Southborough, MA, just 25 miles from Boston. Our community includes 475 students in kindergarten through grade nine and includes 150 boarders in grades 7-9  from across the United States and over 20 countries. Fay is recognized around the world for its superior educational program, and our graduates are accepted to top secondary schools. Fay's program empowers students to discover their talents, develop their intellectual abilities, establish essential academic skills and knowledge, and define their moral character - all essential to living a life of meaning and making a positive difference in the world.

Learn more about Fay School.

main number 508-490-8250
admission 508-490-8201