Columbia University study: Students do better academically in k-8 schools than they do in middle schools

I am not a fan of the middle school concept, believing that the traditional k-8 model deserves another look.  Compared to elementary school, I found the academics in middle school weak, the rules oppressive and the socialization/connections classes just time fillers.

Rather than smooth the rough spots of adolescence, middle schools intensified them by herding too many kids together in schools that were regarded as holding pens until their hormones settled down and they were fit for polite society or at least for algebra I.

Now a new Columbia University study of New York City schools concludes that students fare better in k-8 schools.

“How and Why Middle Schools Harm Student Achievement” is the work of Jonah E. Rockoff and Benjamin B. Lockwood of the Columbia Graduate School of Business. They tracked students in grades 3-8 over a 10-year period (1998-99 school year to the 2007-08 year) and found a decrease in math and reading scores and an increase in absenteeism for students who enter New York middle schools compared to students who continue in k-8 public schools. The drop-off did not have any connection to class size or per-pupil spending.

According to the report, academic achievement, as measured by standardized tests, falls substantially in both math and English among students in their first year in middle school compared to peers who continue to attend a k–8 elementary school in the first year. And achievement continues to decline throughout middle school. This negative effect persists at least through 8th grade, the highest grade for which researchers could obtain test scores.

The study states:

Why the turn against middle schools?

For more than three decades, American public education embraced this organizational model. Between 1970 and 2000, the number of public middle schools in the U.S. grew more than sevenfold, from just over 1,500 to 11,500. These new middle schools displaced both traditional K–8 primary schools and junior high schools (which first appeared a century   ago and served grades 7–8 or 7–9). From 1987 to 2007, the percentage of public-school 6th graders  in K–6 schools fell from roughly 45 percent to 20 percent.

Neither the middle school nor the junior high has ever been popular among private schools, which educated only 2 percent of their 6th and 7th graders in these types of schools in 2007. And maybe the private schools have had it right all along. For the last two decades, education researchers and developmental psychologists have been documenting changes in attitudes and motivation as children enter adolescence, changes that some hypothesize are exacerbated by middle-school curricula and practices.

No matter whether students enter a middle school in the 6th or the 7th grade, middle-school students experience, on  average, a large initial drop in their test scores. Even after accounting for a host of other factors that influence student achievement, students who eventually attend middle schools go from scoring better than their counterparts in k–8 schools in the year prior to transitioning to middle school to scoring below where we would expect if they were not attending a middle school. Math achievement for 6th graders transitioning to middle school falls by 0.18 standard deviations, and English achievement falls by 0.16 standard deviations.

77 comments Add your comment

Sixth grade teacher

September 1st, 2010
12:49 am

One of the biggest selling points I’ve seen in other K-8 articles is that it fosters a sense of community. I can understand that in a neighborhood where families own homes and stay in one place for many years, allowing kids to progress through the school from kindergarten to high school. But so many schools — mine included — have a high transiency rate, both in poor parts of town and in areas where families buy a home, live there a few years, and then move on to something bigger and better. That counteracts the benefits of the “community” atmosphere. I’m definitely not blind to the huge flaws of the middle school concept, particularly since the central notion of “teams” has nearly fallen by the wayside with all the specialized classes (honors/AC, special education, and simple cross-teaming) that leave very few kids in that core group with four teachers. But K-8 schools aren’t the magical panacea that will solve all the issues with middle-level education.

Dr. John Trotter

September 1st, 2010
1:07 am

The underlying concept with the “Middle School Concept” (as this phrase was so piously intoned in the 1980s) was pampering the students. Pampering does not work. I like the old junior high (7-9) or even K-6 and 8-12. Get the students reading for high school early. I have taught at two 8-12 schools, and they seemed to work just fine. But, in the middle 1980s, the Middle School Concept was in vogue and was considered an educational panacea by many. I knew that it was just another fad from the educational ivory towers. LOL.

William Casey

September 1st, 2010
2:50 am

I attended school in DeKalb in the ’60’s under the old K-7, 8-12 system. I began my high school teaching career in Cobb in 1975, just as the Middle School Movement was beginning to flower. I was an administrator in Fulton in the ’90’s and one of my responsibilities was to liaison with my counterparts at our feeder middle schools. We had polite meetings and swapped some materials. Neither of us had our heart in it. Nothing much came out of it.

This is what seems to have happened between 1962 and 1993. In the “olden days” of my youth, the elementary school hammered into us the fundamentals of learning. The high schools then built on this foundation to educate us in the specifics of the various disciplines. These were clear cut missions. The middle school was then interposed between these clearly defined missions with an agenda distinctly different from the missions mentioned above. My direct experience in middle school is limited but this mission seems to be “meeting the felt needs of the children,” a revival of the Dewey/Progressive model that had been banished from elementary and high schools in 1958 (in reality, this took 10-15 years) in the wake of the “Sputnik Education Reform Movement.” (National Defense Education Act?) Being a historian, I’ve always believed that the middle school movement grew out of “The Woodstock Crisis of 1969.” It’s mission seems to be to directly wrestle with the issues of puberty while neglecting both the fundamentals of learning and the specialized skills/knowledge of the academic disciplines. I’m not sure, but I think they lost the wrestling match. Once again, I could be wrong.

d

September 1st, 2010
5:41 am

My only concern would be do we really want 5-year-olds in the same building as 13-year-olds at this point? It’s a whole new world from 30 years ago or so when the middle school model started coming into play. I don’t really think many parents would be in favor of doing away with it now. I understand what the study is saying, but I can’t see a lot of acceptance when we have some of our young teens getting in the type of trouble that some of them are.

stevie

September 1st, 2010
5:48 am

No superficial feature will solve the education problems we face today. What grades we put in a single building may or may not contribute to success/failure at any given school. There are so many other factors – K-8 schools will be larger than K-5 schools; who will be teaching subjects in upper grades; etc.

ScienceTeacher671

September 1st, 2010
6:09 am

I agree with William Casey that the middle-school model is academically weak and too touchy-feely (rephrasing, but I think that’s the gist?)

Also share d’s concerns about having 5 year olds in the same building as older children – it would be up to age 15 with our current 8th graders.

I currently think that the two most important things we could do to improve schools are distinct tracks after 8th grade – and if you don’t “qualify” for the college prep track or the vocational track, you don’t get to go to those schools – and promoting students in younger grades by mastery instead of by age.

Ellen Harrison

September 1st, 2010
6:18 am

What does Finland do?
Since Newsweek . . . I’ve perused their schools web sites, and the organization seems very similar, though there is a cultural preference to reinforce lifelong learning beyond formal diplomas.
My connections GA Performance Standards work across the curriculum, through English, LA and writing, Science, Social Studies and Math. Business Computer Science is designed to promote 21st Century literacy skills, and reinforce real-life, relevant reasons why children learn what they must throughout the school day. And, with time for career exploration and self-assessment, students begin to build their own, unique bridges between their school career and life beyond the high school doors.
Every student, regardless of intellectual gifts or lack thereof, benefits from taking a more business like approach to their school work, and their lives.
Children this age do experience physical, social and emotional growth equivalent to that of the toddler years, and I fully support the whole child approach, not the singular, academic achievement measurements, quantified through bubble in, standardized tests.
Could be that NY is totally different than our systems, in suburban, rural GA.

retired teacher (42 years)

September 1st, 2010
6:19 am

Taught in the middle school 19 years-23 years in the elementary school-definitely K-8!

Dunwoody Mom

September 1st, 2010
6:44 am

Nice to see an article backing up what I’ve said for years!!! I went to school when it was K-8 (actually when I went through DCSS, there was no Kindgerten), and 8- 12 and I have said many times that I had no problem with this arrangement. Middle school is tough enough for those children who “get it” academically due to the all those things that go along with puberty, etc. I think for those children who are not academically sound, with these being such difficult years for them personally, the middle school concept is not a good one.

Larry

September 1st, 2010
7:04 am

Not K-8; but, K-7. It works. Middle School is an expensive, useless, bureaucracy ridden mess. It’s advent & growth and the decline of education parallel one another.

Dunwoody Mom

September 1st, 2010
7:08 am

Actually, K-7…sorry.

quirky

September 1st, 2010
7:20 am

My son goes to a k-8 school, and just started 6th grade. Entering the “Middle School” portion of this school was much less stressful on him than his friends from the neighborhood who go to Dekalb schools. As for the 5 year olds with 15 year olds in the same school dilemma? We have a program where the kindergartners have an 8th grade “buddy” who helps them learn the ropes. It has been a wonderful experience for all involved.

Ernest

September 1st, 2010
7:31 am

Maureen, is there a link available to this study? Being a data person, I’m interested more about how the study was conducted. I’m of the opinion that the family SES and education attainment of the mother has a greater impact on student performance rather than how schools are designed.

Interestingly I was caught between restructuring when I was in school. We had 1-6 (Kindergarten was privately run) and in the process on moving to the junior high model. As a result, I actually went to the same high school from 7-12. My recollection is the high school students were nurturing to the younger students which led to a sense of community.

Musicteacher

September 1st, 2010
7:43 am

Maureen, as a middle school connections teacher for the past 20+ years, I must take exception to your remark about connections classes being “filler”. The philosophy behind the connections classes is that they allow students to make “real world” connections to what they are learning in their academic classes, as well as experiencing a wide range of co-curricular learning. Theoretically, middle school students should rotate through all of the connections classes at least once by the time they have completed middle school, thereby helping them find their interests and aptitudes, so that they can make intelligent choices regarding their high school electives courses.

I’m sorry your connections experiences have been subpar; however, don’t judge all of us according to your experience.

oldtimer

September 1st, 2010
7:55 am

Definitely K-8 is better. The old Dekalb model worked very well, though. 5 year olds and 14 year olds will be fine. None of it will work unless we quit babying kids. Middle schools suffer from no expectations and “do-overs”……….

catlady

September 1st, 2010
7:57 am

IMHO, there are really 2 factors that produce the benefit: the K-8 (or, as I experienced it as a teacher, K-7) and SMALLER SCHOOLS. We had a K-7 of a little less than 300 kids, and when our kids went to high school they by far outshone the K-5, 6-8, 9-12 kids. Our kids were about 1/5 of the high school, but garnered over half the academic awards! And we were not a rich community!

oldtimer

September 1st, 2010
7:59 am

And after spending many years in Middle School I will say, most connection teachers I worked with were great. The classes were not fillers. In Clayton Co. the chorus, band and strings classes were the best. The art teacher planned activities that coordinated with what we were doing. Consumer sciences taught my own girls a lot about consumer economics….

Maureen Downey

September 1st, 2010
8:08 am

Ernest, Just posted the link as it was not yet up last night when I published the blog:

http://educationnext.org/stuck-in-the-middle/

gt2012

September 1st, 2010
8:11 am

I’m a 2008 grad of the Dekalb School System, and my take is that Middle Schools really are not effective. I felt like my 7th/8th grade years (my elementary school still had 6th grade at the time) were effective wastes of time, and that they really did not go very far in preparing me for matriculation into a high school program. I did enjoy having 6th grade at my elementary school, and felt that it did help me move forward, as opposed to the step back i felt occurred with many students once they entered middle school, and would love to see the K-8 concept revisited.. Lord knows SOMETHING’S gotta give in Dekalb!

Just my 2 cents on the subject..

RJ

September 1st, 2010
8:14 am

“…socialization/connections classes just time fillers.”

Maureen, I’ve taught middle school for 12 years and I can assure you that my class is no time filler. Students are actively engaged in learning skills that will last a lifetime. My chorus class is a year long course, however many students choose to remain in the program the 3 years they are in middle school. Many of them have gone one to participate in their highschool programs and a few even became music majors in college. My general music students are able to discover careers they’ve never heard of, experience working in collaborative groups and be creative. We help kids make real life connections. I agree with an earlier post, don’t lump us all altogether based on your personal experiences.

RJ

September 1st, 2010
8:15 am

Let me correct myself by saying “was no time filler” since I’m no longer in middle school.

look closer

September 1st, 2010
8:30 am

I agree with Maureen – the connections class are pure wasted time. Those kids who take a year long connection (such a chorus or band) get some real benefit, but the 9 week connections are worthless.

EnoughAlready

September 1st, 2010
8:30 am

Does a (K-8) school teach a different curriculum for 6th, 7th and 8th graders than a middle school? No, I believe the core material usually stays the same. However, middle school students are usually allowed less time for library visits and social activities that were allowed during their elementary school years. They give up daily recess and interact with a diverse group of students and teachers. That’s a big change. A middle school also comprise of two or three elementary schools merging into one school. The kids are forced to learn new people and friendships expand and breakup. That’s a critical set of changes for that age group. Then puberty hits and a whole set of new situations occur.

To sum it all up, there are a whole bunch of situations that affect middle school and I believe that kids would benefit more if they remained together until it’s time for high school. I believe that most young adults are more secure in themselves by 15 and 16; therefore making high school somewhat of a better experience.

Secondary Ed.

September 1st, 2010
8:31 am

From what I understand the middle school concept is all about money. Back in the mid 90’s my system -went from a Junior High (7-8) concept to a middle school (6-8) concept purely based on money. My understanding is that the state’s formula gave us more money and some extra teachers, thus the decision was made. Damn the children, it’s all about the Benjamins!! I personally like the Junior High concept, many 6th graders (including my own current 6th grader) are not ready to be mixed in with 8th graders. There is a huge difference in a 6th grader and an 8th grader from a maturity standpoint.

HS Teacher, Too

September 1st, 2010
8:32 am

@Maureen – A great topic and blog for today!

I have often thought that middle school was the proverbial ‘black hole’ of k-12. When students come to high school, it is often as if they never attended any academic classes in middle school.

When I speak to those middle school teachers, they claim to be teaching very rigorous content – but most is far too advanced for middle school learners. I just wish they would reinforce the basics.

I teach science and I cringe to hear middle school science teachers making those students do labs they ‘found’ on an AP web site. Those students do not gain anything from doing those advanced labs. Those students need to have the basic science information ingrained in them first. Those students rarely know how to graph, understand what science is, know the variables in an experiment, etc. They certainly cannot grasp the advanced concepts without the basics.

Mac

September 1st, 2010
8:47 am

The size of the school has a much bigger impact than whether or not it is elementary, middle or jr high.

catlady

September 1st, 2010
8:47 am

Unfortunately, the administrators have watered down middle school. The teachers would like it to be meaningful; they would like to have discipline. But they have little say-so, as they are required to give do-overs and extra credit and no zeroes.

Also, Ernest is correct. Parental SES and maternal education level and aspirations count for about 40% (as I recall) of the variation in student achievement, independent of other factors. The amount of impact is the most significant, by far, outweighing even student “ability” as measured so imperfectly by tests. Other significant factors (independently) include family formation (single parent, parent with step parent, both biological parents), and things such as social and cultural capital (which tie into SES and education, not surprisingly).

AJinCobb

September 1st, 2010
8:59 am

The study found that “students with lower initial levels of academic achievement fare especially poorly in middle school” although they found that above-average students suffered an achievement drop also.

I’m wondering about gifted students, and also what provision the NYC system makes for such students. In the case of my eldest child, middle school provided a very welcome transition from the “Target” pull-out class to enriched versions of regular classes. We didn’t see much value in the Target program, which appeared to mostly serve to help the better students be less bored in their regular class, with the unfortunate side-effect of fostering a certain amount of elitism among the children. (If you were in Target, you were privileged and therefore more “cool”.)

At my child’s Cobb middle school, he was placed in all “advanced” or “accelerated” versions of the regular courses (social studies, math, etc.) This was a huge improvement for my child. Suddenly, the pace of presentation and level of class discussion in all his classes were at a good level for him. Furthermore, there was orchestra!

Ironically, I believe that academic “streaming” is anathema to the true middle school model, being considered more high school like.

I truly understand the concern for struggling students. But from the point of view of the academically talented, stuffing them back for three more years in that “nurturing” elementary school environment with the full range of student abilities in one class, doesn’t seem like an improvement to me. It reminds me too much of this line from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”:

“As I inched sluggishly along the treadmill of the Maycomb County school system, I could not help receiving the impression that I was being cheated out of something. Out of what I know not, yet I did not believe that twelve years of unrelieved boredom was exactly what the state had in mind for me.”

Teacher Reader

September 1st, 2010
9:30 am

As a child, I went to a K-6 school and then 7-12 jr high and high school. As a teacher I have taught in k-8, k-6, and k-5 and been in numerous middle schools. I HATE middle schools and do not understand the value of putting children with raging hormones and poor thinking skills together at a time in one’s life that is very important in forming decision making processes.

Last fall I heard about a book titled Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, that looks at research and shows how our thinking is misguided. It was an eye opener for me. I knew some of the research, but not all of it.

I do not know who came up with the concept of middle school, but think that that person or group of people should not be allowed near children. Those defending middle school, are not looking at the bigger picture. Is this what is truly best for our children? Even a school with transient issues would be better off without a middle school, so that these transient children can get a sense of community.

We baby our children way too much. We do not let our children suffer natural consequences from lack of effort. We want our children to feel good, and not necessarily because they have worked hard and accomplished something. We are damaging our children to think that any amount of effort or even no effort at all should result in positive feelings. We have a generation of children and adults who do not know how to obtain true happiness, because they don’t understand hard work and that not everything in life can make you happy.

Middle school is not a good situation for our children. I will not allow my children to attend a middle school, as I do not think that they would be able to follow my family values and I do not want them exposed to things that they really are not maturely ready to handle yet.

I urge those who care about our children to read Nuture Shock, as it will open your eyes to how we are hurting our children. Middle school is just one example. Praising our children instead of telling them that they worked hard or showed good thinking skills is another.

Maureen Downey

September 1st, 2010
9:30 am

@look closer, I agree that the year-long courses — band and chorus in my local school — are valuable, but I, too, found the short courses short on content. Some of the classess seemed to strain to even fill the nine weeks. I would prefer to see art as a year-round course. I would also like to see PE as a year round course. I think kids would benefit from fewer of these courses taught in more depth.

Ole Guy

September 1st, 2010
10:38 am

What the hell’s going on here!? There appears to be so many facets in life that, for some strange reason, people who used to be presumed to be of sane disposition, now insist on modifying the world in order that kids will be molified…”Please, child, let me rub your tummy; tell me when it feels nice”. We have completely lost our everlovin minds!

Ole Guy

September 1st, 2010
10:50 am

These damn hotel computers put you on time limits:

People, this recent “study” on “what makes little Johnny happy” is a bunch of hogwash (polite term for BS). If you, collectively, continue to insist on this sort of shux, you will not only be disappointed, you will be responsible for developing one of the worse self-consumed generations in in history of civilization…if we haven’t already reached that point.

Forget this middle school vs k-8 arguement. Just stick the kid behind a desk, demand results, and that’s all there is to it. FOR CRYIN OUT LOUD, PEOPLE, STOP CODDLING THESE KIDS!

Hey Teacher

September 1st, 2010
10:51 am

The K-8 works if you have students that are not 17 in the 8th grade. Catholic schools are K-8 but they have the luxury of kicking out the trouble makers (or the 17 year old 8th grader who can drive to school). Times have changed.

Pluto

September 1st, 2010
10:58 am

I think the education community thrives on throwing stuff up against the wall until it sticks. The middle school fad has proven to be another attempt at finding out what works and what doesn’t. At the high school level we have found that this model does not prepare these students for the rigors encountered. There appears to be too much self-esteem building and cupcake eating to get any learning done.

TechMom

September 1st, 2010
11:01 am

Great topic- I too feel like public education falls apart at the middle school level. There just doesn’t seem to be clear direction or education standards and no one seems to be held accountable for what happens in middle schools.

Just because the higher grades are in the same elementary building, doesn’t mean they don’t have the option of changing classes and dividing up based on academic levels (I started ‘changing’ classes in 4th grade for english, math and science but was still part of 1 main class). The sense of community and the fact that teachers KNOW the students is a huge benefit. It gives them accountability. And they’re in the same building with teachers they’ve had over the years who are watching them and watching out for them- again some accountability that is lost at a middle school where none of the students or parents know the teachers.

My son goes to a K-12 private school with about 650 students. There are no issues with the elementary, middle and high school students interacting. K-4 is on one hall and 5-12 is on another but they share common areas. The older students are given the opportunity to help the younger students and encouraged to be good role models. I’m not saying that there are never any issues and intentionally their interactions during the actual school day are kept to a minimum but it has not proved to be a problem, rather a benefit most days.

LLL

September 1st, 2010
11:07 am

For those who think K-8 “worked,” what evidence do you have? Have US schools ever worked? With what populations of students?

This is just a cosmetic issue. A lot of people want smaller schools, too. How are you going to have smaller K-8 schools? A lot of K-5 schools are all filled up. Where are you going to put more students? Are we going to build more schools – you can’t just say use the current middle schools becase they usually serve several elementary schools. There are probably many more important issues than what grades should be in the same building.

Devildog

September 1st, 2010
11:54 am

K-7 worked so well you wonder why the “deep thinkers” changed it.

da roosta

September 1st, 2010
1:43 pm

K-3 4-6 7-9 10-12 This is how it was when I went to school. Everything was fine. Mixing older kids with younger kids in school and on the bus is asking for trouble.

101 Club

September 1st, 2010
1:43 pm

I taught every age level from pre-K to high school seniors for 37 years, and the best model for elementary school is definitely K-7; 8-12 for high school.

Dianne

September 1st, 2010
1:49 pm

Yes, yes, yes! Middle schools are places we isolate youngsters until they are fit for society again. In my experience with my children, connectons (electives) were a complete waste (except for year-long band which paid off at the university band level). Even core classes seemed to feature a lot of busy work. I am a product of the K-7, 8-12 system from Atlanta Public Schools in the mid-70s. I remember being re-energized about school when I started 8th grade in high school. How many 8th graders are energized today?

README

September 1st, 2010
1:49 pm

FUNNY HOW THE HISPANIC KID IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PICTURE IS THROWING A GANG SIGN. I BET HE DOESN’T EVEN SPEAK ENGLISH. IF YOU LOOK HE IS SHOOTING THREE FINGERS AND ON THE OTHER HAND HE HAS WHAT LOOKS LIKE AN “M” – M-13. HE IS ALSO SHOWING OFF HIS BELT, OR SHOWING HIS “GANG COLORS”. HOPE THE SCHOOL FOLLOWS UP ON THIS.

Dr. T

September 1st, 2010
1:53 pm

Maureen, no one ever asked classroom teachers about moving to the “middle school.” I started teaching in a Junior High in Cobb County in 1971, which transitioned into a “middle school.” It never worked, not in 1971 and not in 2010 (I am still in education, though no longer a teacger in Cobb.) The worst thing “they” ever did was to build those god-awful “pod based” schools with no windows, so the little darlings wouldn’t be distracted (Cobb County has a plethora of them.) So, here we are in 2010, and it suddenly dawns on someone at Columbia that Middle Schools don’t work? I could have told you that forty years ago. We have a bad habit in education of believing anything a “specialist” tells us. Usually, it just ain’t so!

Understanding Atlanta

September 1st, 2010
1:57 pm

I went to one of the last K-7 elementary schools in DCSS in the late 90’s and it worked great. I didn’t go directly to HS, instead spent a year in middle school at DCSS’s magnet program. This model worked great. I can attest even when I went to a middle school they had too many issues that were moot points in the K-7 and high school. Just an unnecessary level of buearcracy.

As far the issue with 15 yrs olds and 5 yr olds, that came up at my school during my 6th grade year. The solution (to that problem and an overcrowding issue at one school) was to combine two elementary schools. One was a Primary Elementary School (K-4) and the other upper elementary (5-7). Now the Upper elementary school wasn’t operated as a middle school, it still had the elementary feel. No bell, went to lunch as a homeroom, only changed classes 3 times (as preparation for high school), no lockers, spent most of the day with the same people.

That model helped students transition better. It allows to develop better relationships with teachers and parents as you have fewer teachers and then teachers operate as teams so they coordinate activities and class functions. This also takes out the politics of MS teachers being on a team and in a subject area department.

KeiKei

September 1st, 2010
2:00 pm

I am from North Jersey where the majority of the school systems are K-8 and then high school. The school I attended was Pre-K – 8 and it was a great environment. I was able to maintain a relationship with all of my teachers through my elementary/”middle” school years. I still stay in touch with them 24 years later. With the proper model, and that is key, it can definitely be a benefit to the children. I am still trying to understand the middle school concept here in GA and I find it a waste. Like one person wrote, it is that sense of community that helps the children to grow and mature because they know that they will have a constant support system with them during their formative years.

So, so, tired teacher

September 1st, 2010
2:36 pm

On a break here before my 6th Graders arrive. Maureen, I have to take exception with your “filler” comment refering to Connection classes. I teach 6-8 Health. I still have the email from a parent last spring from her stay in the hospital. She only survived because her son used his CPR skills learned in my classroom.
My goals are that children stay away from drugs, eat a healthier diet, become more active, and do not become parents until they are adults and have careers and hopefully a spouse.
I am not sure how much more relevant a course could and curriculum could be to one’s child.

Mom of 3/Teacher of many

September 1st, 2010
2:37 pm

I’ve seen, through my own experiences in school, through my sons, and through teaching middle school darlings just what this article says: Middle School doesn’t work well. My sons have gone to two different middle schools (we were redistricted). One was too easy – not enough to prepare students for high school. The other one expects more than my sons’ high school does! Inconsistency in rigor, the whole issue brought up about combining different groups of students who are going through puberty, as well as the strict rules expecting students in their most social years not to talk for eight hours, all combine to torture students.

My sons are gifted, and I do like the ability to pull students out in gifted subject matter classrooms, but that could easily be accomplished in a different way. I think I would prefer a K-3, 4-7, and 8-12 to the traditional 6-8 middle school. This would group students into more appropriate age groups based on maturity. Even better, if we were allowed school CHOICE, each parent could choose what was best for their child. There is a HUGE difference between my 7th grader who is socially behind, small for his age, and has a June birthday and the 7th grader who has already been held back and already turned 13 and whose social situations are not monitored.

ant banks

September 1st, 2010
2:53 pm

i can not believe how many generations of students we have “harmed” due to the wild ideas comin’ from the ivory towers.

1.scrapping phonics for whole language
2.scrapping the k-7 and 8-12 model for middle school

the middle school concept is the worse concept. you are take kids who are goin’ thru the biggest hormonal changes in their lives and concentrate them under one roof? GENIUS. the aforementioned models had the kids “dilluted” thru their hormonal changes.

the 8-12 model was not the best idea either. in the 80’s you had juniors and seniors preyin’ on the 8th graders. i definitely WOULDN’T recommend this model in 2010.

Ole Guy

September 1st, 2010
2:54 pm

I continue to be baffled at the very thought that this is, in any way, a meaningful issue. (Would you like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a sandwich of the jelly and peanut butter variety?). If the kid is “hungry” enough, either one will do just fine. If, however, you convince the kid that there is actually a difference between the two, than you are simply presenting the kid with yet another reason to justify difficulties within the ed system.

I’m a military bratt…I can’t begin to recount, in understandable terms, the number of schools I attended. I am far far and away far from exceptionally smart; simply average. Yet I managed to graduate from hs at the standard age of 18. I pissed around in college awhile before attending Uncle Sam’s Benning School for Boys, and the “attending graduate experiences” thereafter. I have somehow been able to gain BS, MS, and PHD level educations, had reasonably challenging and, yes, rewarding careers, and, in post-retirement, stay productively involved.

AT NO POINT, IN MY EARLY LIFE, WAS I AFFORDED SO MANY VARIABLES IN EDUCATION! I simply did as I was told, given standards of expectations, and ran with the ball. If I “fumbled” in my educational pursuits (and I’ve got a lot of experience there), there was always someone to encourage me, and to kick me on the six when deemed necessary. PEOPLE, THIS IS THE ONLY WAY!

Stop making rocket science out of the educational process…it’s already complicated enough as it is. Just go back to basics…send the kid(s) into the “game” with a game plan, a set of expectations and desired results. If the kid(s) fails to deliver, it’s the kid who has to be held accountable…NOT the teacher, NOT the Easter Bunny, NOT the Tooth Fairy…THE KID! Stop coming up with reasons the kid can attach to justifications for failure! K-8, Middle School, Jr High, etc, etc, ad nauseum. Peanut Butter and Jelly or Jelly and Peanut Butter…if you can really identify a REAL difference, all the morepower to ya.

ant banks

September 1st, 2010
2:54 pm

the k-8 model would STILL NOT address the issues with 9th graders in high school. nationally, this grade level has the highest retention and suspension rate.

Grumpy

September 1st, 2010
2:56 pm

Middle school is a war zone.