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ERIC Number: ED531119
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Mar
Pages: 36
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Improved Middle Grades Schools for Improved High School Readiness: Ten Best Practices in the Middle Grades
Bottoms, Gene; Timberlake, Allison
Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)
In 2009, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Committee to Improve High School Graduation Rates and Achievement, led by then-Governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia, released a report of 10 key recommendations for ensuring more students graduate from high school, and they graduate ready for college and careers. Among these 10 recommendations was this directive for the middle grades: "Strengthen middle grades students' transition into high school and reduce ninth-grade failure rates." Results from the 2011 Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test show that, nationally, 25 percent of eighth-grade students perform below the Basic level, indicating they are not ready to succeed in college-preparatory courses in high school. Even a high proportion of the 43 percent of students performing at the Basic level are likely underprepared for high school, as the Basic level denotes only partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work in the eighth grade. National NAEP mathematics results from 2011 show a similar trend--28 percent of eighth-grade students perform below the Basic level and 38 percent perform only at the Basic level. This lack of readiness for high school is evident in ninth-grade enrollment numbers. In 2008-2009, ninth-grade enrollment was 10 percent higher than eighth-grade enrollment in the previous school year, indicating that many students did not get promoted from the ninth grade to the 10th grade on time. Students who fail early in high school have an extremely low probability of graduating. Despite the important role of the middle grades in improving graduation rates and students' readiness for the future, many states have not placed a major focus on the middle grades. To help states, districts and schools determine what actions are needed to ensure more students leave the middle grades ready for challenging high school studies, SREB studied school practices and student achievement in schools from across its "Making Middle Grades Work" ("MMGW") network. This study compared 10 middle grades schools that made significant progress in improving reading, mathematics and science achievement ("most-improved schools") with 10 middle grades schools that failed to make progress over a two-year period ("least-improved schools") in order to discern what actions resulted in greater improvement. From this study, SREB has identified 10 best practices that have important implications for states and schools in their efforts to meet the goal of graduating more students and graduating them prepared for college and careers. (Contains 22 tables, 11 figures and 15 endnotes.)
Southern Regional Education Board. 592 10th Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30318-5790. Tel: 404-875-9211; Fax: 404-872-1477; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Southern Regional Education Board
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Assessment of Educational Progress