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ERIC Number: ED500866
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 36
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 26
Middle Start Schools Striving for Excellence: Steadily Improving High-Poverty Schools in the Mid South Delta
Rose, Lea Williams
Academy for Educational Development
As part of a national Middle Start initiative led by the Academy for Educational Development (AED), Mid South Middle Start is committed to working with high-poverty schools in the Mid South Delta region to build their capacity to foster students' academic excellence, support the development of young adolescents, and achieve social equity in schools with middle grades. The initiative is based on a set of guidelines which emphasize ongoing inquiry into teaching and learning, the cultivation of effective small learning communities, continual improvement of student learning and achievement, and distribution of leadership throughout the school and community to support students' high-level learning and development. Five schools featured in this study received state or foundation grants to participate in Mid South Middle Start and collaborate with a Middle Start coach to implement the Middle Start comprehensive school improvement program. School leadership teams, consisting of teachers and the principal, participated in professional development and leadership training facilitated by AED Middle Start coaches and professional development organizations. These opportunities enabled school staff to build their capacity in data-based inquiry for school improvement, teaming, content knowledge, innovative instructional strategies, and new approaches to scheduling. The report contains four major sections: (1) Essential elements of effective school-wide reform efforts; (2) AED's role; (3) Middle Start schools featured in this study; and (4) Status of Middle Start implementation in study schools. The five schools featured in this study share a common feature: all are high-poverty schools in the Mid South Delta; the majority are striving towards school improvement. The four levels of Middle Start implementation (level 1=emerging, level 2=making progress, level 3=reaching a maturing stage, and level 4=sustaining stage) are evident in improvement efforts. Some schools have made more progress than others, and the underlying reason is primarily due to available supports. Factors and Conditions Promoting School Improvement include: (1) Collaborative culture of reflection and improvement and use of a school's strengths to promote school change; (2) Participatory leadership and practice of broad-based decision making among teachers; (3) Block scheduling, teaming, small learning communities, and other structures to support effective teaching and learning; (4) District and community support for education initiatives to promote community-wide understanding about goals of reform efforts and provide funding for professional development and support; (5) Strategic alliances to expand a school's resource base, increase its visibility, and build a sustainable infrastructure for school improvement; (6) Ongoing technical assistance from coaches who provide on-site support in organizational planning, classroom instruction, and ongoing inquiry and self assessment; and (7) Ongoing documentation of progress and ongoing use of data in school improvement efforts. Middle Start Principles and Practices are appended. (Contains 4 footnotes, 6 figures and 4 tables.)
Academy for Educational Development. 1825 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009-5721. Tel: 202-884-8000; Fax: 202-884-8400; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Academy for Educational Development, Inc., New York, NY.
IES Cited: ED506645