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BREAKING RANKS IN THE MIDDLE: New Report Offers Guidance to Middle School Principals on Improving Student Achievement

"The early warning signals for high school dropouts and low-achieving students can be seen at the middle level," said Gerald N. Tirozzi

A new report released from the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) challenges middle school principals to take responsibility for improving the academic outcomes of all of their students and for getting them on track for success in high school and beyond. The report, Breaking Ranks in the Middle: Strategies for Leading Middle Level School Reform, details nine “cornerstone strategies” and 30 specific recommendations for improving student achievement. It also includes four full-length profiles and a number of vignettes of schools that already have many of the report’s recommendations in place.

“The early warning signals for high school dropouts and low-achieving students can be seen at the middle level,” said Gerald N. Tirozzi, NASSP executive director. “Collaborative leadership, data, personalized learning, and a rigorous curriculum at the middle level will better prepare students for high school and post-secondary success.”

The report’s nine strategies are concentrated in three key areas: 1) collaborative leadership, professional learning communities, and the strategic use of data; 2) personalizing the school environment; and 3) creating rigorous student-centered curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

The report notes that improving results for high school students will meet with little success if the challenges and needs of students in middle school are not addressed. Its strategies and recommendations are closely tied to Breaking Ranks II: Strategies for Leading High School Reform.

More information on the report is available at

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