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Middle School v K-8 Educational Research Subcommittee Report September 21, 2006 What does current research indicate about K-8 v 6-8 schools? Poor test scores Unmanageable behavior Many declared the middle school dead although it is a model that has not been fully implemented and supported

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Middle school v k 8 l.jpg

Middle School v K-8

Educational Research Subcommittee Report

September 21, 2006

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Poor test scores

Unmanageable behavior

Many declared the middle school dead although it is a model that has not been fully implemented and supported


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  • Grade configuration is only 1 consideration in making the choice

  • Grade configuration does not determine the effectiveness of a school

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Enhances academic achievement

Encourages parental involvement

Reduces affective difficulties for adolescents

Minimizes transitions

Removes transition from elementary to middle school

Fewer fights and a safer environment

Less sexually charged environment and later initiation of sexual activity

Advantages of K-8

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Higher attendance and lower suspension rates

Students form strong bonds of friendship and support each other

Less peer pressure

Students exhibit higher self esteem and feel safer

Easier to fill teacher and staff positions than in MS

Less expensive to build and operate

Advantages of K-8

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Teachers not used to having older, bigger children in the building

Physical plant may not be conducive to the education of both very young children and young adolescents

Academic and behavioral problems with new student transfers into the higher grades

Fewer academic, sports and extracurricular activity options than MS

Disadvantages of K-8

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Resistance on the part of some students to remain in an elementary school

May result in a more difficult transition to high school

May add to the resegregation of urban schools

Disadvantages of K-8

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Challenges of K-8 elementary school

  • Age and size differences of students

  • Need to create one unified school rather than two co-located schools

  • Fair allocation of financial resources to ensure that the unique needs of all student age groups are met

  • Preparation of students for transition to high school

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Middle School Advantages when middle school concept is implemented as a complete set over time

  • Increase in academic achievement

  • Decrease in behavior problems (including among students who struggle with both)

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Small teaching teams implemented as a complete set over time

Authentic instruction

Integrative curriculum

Service learning

Affective membership

Improve achievement

Improve engagement

Improve relationships

Various practices have independently shown

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Sense of belonging and security implemented as a complete set over time

Support system through puberty’s ups and downs

Meaningful contexts for learning

Many ways in which adolescents differ from younger children and older adolescents

Small teaching teams

Improved family relationships

An integrative curriculum

More appropriate teacher prep

Adolescents’ needs

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“…K-8 schools do not necessarily outperform middle schools when both serve high poverty students”Balfanz et al., 2002

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“…However much improved achievement test scores appear in urban K-8 schools, such scores still do not rise to state and national averages for this age group”Beane & Lipka, 2006

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“…School grade configuration is not a remedy for the rising tide of poverty in our nation’s urban center.”Beane & Lipka, 2006

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Nathan Bishop be a high quality middle school with 100-150 students/grade

One grade to be added each year so that incoming students can learn the culture of the school and a stable population can be established

Committee Recommendation

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Quality leadership and teachers are key students/grade

  • Strong leadership

  • Committed teachers who want and choose to be at the school

  • Teachers who want and are willing to forge bonds with students

  • Promote teacher competence through continued professional development and support

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Curriculum students/grade

  • Academically rigorous

  • Student-centered: builds upon the interest of students

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Environment students/grade

  • Engaging, comfortable environment

  • Student voices are heard

  • Opportunities for student leadership (Everyone is a leader)

  • Extracurricular activates to keep students engaged in the school community

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Support students/grade

  • Transitions are difficult- Make connections to the elementary schools to ease transitions

  • Advisories for student support

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Instructional approaches students/grade

  • Consistently rigorous

  • Implement systematically

  • Supported with professional development

  • Group and regroup students for instruction using formative assessment so students are not stuck in one group or tracked

  • Offer options for students: example AP Spanish for Hispanic Students with opportunity for high school credit

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Instructional Approaches students/grade

  • Provide opportunities for students to advance or receive support in different subject areas through technology and distance learning

  • Knowledge of Adolescents and adolescent development is a necessity

  • Knowledge of learning styles

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“Highly Qualified Teacher” students/grade

  • Content knowledge

  • Certification

  • Knowledge of the development of adolescents

  • Expertise in teaching adolescents

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Implications for Professional Development students/grade

  • Professional development that addresses pedagogy and adolescent development

  • Specialized training for school environment and culture-poverty, violence, etc

  • Effective use of common planning time such as how to study data for implication for instruction

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Implications for Professional Development students/grade

  • Advisory Groups-training teachers with effective implementation of advisory groups when students make “a lasting connection with at least one caring adult, academic and personal outcomes improve.”

  • Differentiation professional development-instructional strategies effective for middle school students because not all students learn at the same rate

  • Partnerships with Colleges and Universities for continuation of content professional development for teachers

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Educational Research Subcommittee students/grade

Dr. Joyce L. Stevos, Chairperson

Barbara Halzel

Diane L. McAleer

Annette Mozzoni

Dr. Monica Nagy

Dr. Harlan Rich

Samuel Zurier, Esq.