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ERIC Number: ED502204
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun
Pages: 64
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 151
The Critical Middle: A Reason for Hope
Maryland State Department of Education
The middle grades are a time of change for adolescent learners. Middle schoolers are in the process of refining their social skills and their self-concept. They begin taking responsibility for their education and making decisions about their own learning. They start planning for college and careers, understanding for the first time how their academic choices now will affect their goals later. However, many students struggle in the middle, with a more challenging curriculum and rising expectations; with a more imposing, less nurturing environment; and with more non-school interests competing for their time and attention. All these things take an academic toll, and it is in middle school that academic progress slows, performance declines, and achievement gaps persist. In September 2006, the Middle School Steering Committee was convened to improve teaching and learning in the middle grades. The Steering Committee was asked to identify areas where transforming practice offers the greatest impact on student learning, and to recommend ways to put those practices into effect. Sixteen committee recommendations are discussed: (1) Extending the middle school day and school year as dictated by the needs of the learner; (2) Preparing students to complete algebra by the end of 8th grade; (3) Providing integrated match, science, and technology instruction focused on problem-solving and real-world application; (4) Enrolling every student in a sequential world-language course in 6th grade; (5) Stressing reading, writing, and thinking skills as integral components of each subject; (6) Providing fine-arts instruction to develop literacy in music, dance, theater, and visual arts; (7) Teaching information literacy and technology use in all subjects; (8) Teaching skills beyond content mastery (including critical thinking, problem solving, organization and communication); (9) Providing accelerated instruction for advanced learners; (10) Preparing teachers specifically to work with middle-level learners; (11) Providing high-quality professional development for middle-school teachers; (12) Establishing a leadership team in every middle school; (13) Regular assessment of learning; (14) Emphasis on mastery of essential skills; (15) Partnerships with students and parents to guide educational decisions; and (16) Flexible scheduling to provide time for students to master concepts and for teachers to collaborate. (Sections are noted individually.) [This report was prepared by the Maryland Middle School Steering Committee.]
Maryland State Department of Education. 200 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. Tel: 410-767-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Maryland State Department of Education
Identifiers - Location: Maryland