4:45 am – 12:00 pm EDT Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill 400 New Jersey Avenue, NW Washington, DC
Middle grades should prepare students academically and personally for the challenges of high school and beyond. For most students, future academic success or failure can be predicted based on indicators assessed as early as sixth grade, so failing to recognize middle-level education as the crucial link in the K–12 continuum seriously jeopardizes our efforts to reform high schools, raise graduation rates, and prepare all students for college and work. Middle schools do not operate in a vacuum. They reflect the aspirations of their local communities and are part of a system of education that determines their organizational structure, their funding, and their ability to define and hire high-quality teachers. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and other federal policies affect all aspects of middle-level education, yet there is no cohesive national policy for the middle grades.
How can educators and policymakers ensure that students in grades five through eight stay engaged in a challenging, standards-based curricula and begin to get the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century? What supports should be in place to help all students reach higher levels of achievement in literacy, math, and science? What is a highly-qualified, middle-level teacher? How do we ensure that every student has a graduation plan and an adult advocate to help them succeed? What kind of organizational structures, including extending the school day, have been used to ensure that students master “the basics” without narrowing the curriculum and eliminating physical education, exposure to foreign languages, the arts, and other exploratory courses?
The day-long symposium of policymakers, educators, and other stakeholders interested in strengthening secondary education at the middle level and developing a national middle-level policy, examined research, best practices, and policy to help answer these questions and more.
I. Welcome and Introduction
II. Changing Middle Grade Culture – Higher Expectations And Higher Engagement
Middle grades should prepare all students personally and academically for high school. If we fail to recognize middle level education as a crucial link in the K-12 continuum, will our efforts to raise graduation rates fail? The panel discussed the important role of rigor and engagement in creating a culture of high expectations in successful middle schools.
PowerPoint Presentation: Middle School: Higher Expectations and Higher Engagement
III. Keeping Students on Track – Critical Instructional Supports to Accelerate Teaching And Learning
For most students, the likelihood of future academic success or failure can be predicted based on indicators assessed as early as sixth grade. How can educators and policymakers use those crucial indicators to ensure students get what they need to succeed? What are the interventions that can keep at-risk students from falling off track?
IV. Education Policy in the Middle
What is the outlook for policy action on middle schools? How has middle grade education looked in the past and how should that inform future policy? How can federal, state, and local policy move middle grade reform forward?
V. Middle Schools that Work
What do the best middle schools have in common? How can we learn from middle schools that are already succeeding? Where is the consensus on what works? What does the research say about practice and policy? How can we replicate successful efforts?
VI. Closing Remarks