DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson is working on a plan to improve the quality of the system’s middle schools. But there’s been a debate about how best to educate this age group for years. What can we learn from it?
D.C. isn’t the only place in the country fretting about middle schools. In New York, newly appointed schools chancellor Carmen Fariña is focusing on this sector as well, predicting that “if we get middle school right, the rest is going to be a piece of cake.” And one former Louisiana superintendent has called middle schools “the Bermuda triangle of education
“Middle school has been this overlooked, forgotten period for too long,” says Lynsey Wood Jeffries, chief executive officer of Higher Achievement, a nonprofit that works with middle school students.
While it may have been overlooked in some ways, educators have been experimenting with changing grade configurations for this cohort for over 50 years. Until the early 20th century, kindergarten-through-eighth grade schools were the norm. Junior high schools, serving seventh and eighth grade separately, became popular during the 1950s.
Then in the ’60s, middle schools that started at sixth or sometimes fifth grade became trendy. More recently there’s been a movement back to K-8 schools (DCPS calls them “education campuses”). But none of these configurations seem to have provided the magic formula.
[Continue reading Natalie Wexler's post at Greater Greater Education.]
Natalie Wexler is the editor of Greater Greater Education and a member of the board of the D.C. Scholars Public Charter School. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.