From left to right: Pattee Hall, circa 1908; Peik Hall, circa 1954; Institute of Child Welfare, circa 1955

Laboratory schools for K–12

A history of innovative education at the U

The laboratory schools movement of the 1900s included not only preschools but also elementary and high schools. At one time the University had all three.

Established by the University’s Board of Regents in 1908, University High School played a large role in research for the College of Education. The laboratory high school, occupying Peik Hall starting in 1952, enrolled approximately 465 students every year. Students regularly participated in research studies.

University Elementary School, founded in 1947 and located in Pattee Hall, aimed to support research and teacher education. The laboratory elementary school opened with a first-grade class and added a class each year until a six-grade elementary school was completed in 1952 with 175 children enrolled. The kindergarten initiated in the laboratory preschool was transferred to the elementary school in 1959. Teachers in the elementary school studied individual differences in students, general problems of growth and development, and new ways of adapting techniques to needs.

Marshall University High School, 1977

In 1963, an external study proposed that University High School merge with Minneapolis Public Schools’ John Marshall High School in order to offer a broader educational curriculum and enroll children of different races, economic backgrounds, and educational abilities. The merger finalized in 1969, and the laboratory high school relocated by three blocks to Marshall High School on Fifth Avenue Southeast in Dinkytown.

In 1965, at the request of the dean and faculty of the College of Education, University Elementary School closed. The discontinuation of the elementary school was prompted by the hope to expand programs conducted in surrounding demonstration schools, such as Marcy, Motley, Pratt, and Tuttle.

Marshall–University High School closed in 1982 under budget constraints. Student apartments now occupy the site. Today, many faculty members carry out classroom-
based research in local schools and districts with children of all ages.

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Story by Chloe Herzog | Photos courtesy of the Institute of Child Development, Shirley G. Moore Lab School, and the University of Minnesota Photo Archives | Fall 2018