is middle school toxic?

by taylordoe

I found this article this morning on Huffington Post’s Education page. (If you don’t regularly stop by their site, I highly recommend it. They aggregate a lot of really informational education articles, as well as offer to some great opinion pieces.) This article is about the affect of the transition to middl school on student performance. A recent study from Harvard suggests that students who attend K-8 schools perform better on math and language arts tests in high school than those students who transition to the more traditional 6-8 middle school setting. Furthermore, the data suggests that students coming from K-8 schools are also less likely to dropout of high school.

After the last few months in a 6-8 middle school, I can see why some students struggle in this environment. Sixth graders are so completely different in physical and emotional development than 8th graders that it is hard to make sense of them traveling next to each other in the halls. The article quotes Education Secretary Arne Duncan in calling the middle school years the “Bermuda Triangle” for students, as it is time for them to sink or swim. It is tough to accept, but in many ways Secretary Duncan is correct. Statistics show us that middle school is a crucial time for students, as those who leave middle school behind grade level in core subjects are exponentially more likely not to receive a high school diploma.

I’m interested to see what education leaders suggest in addressing this issue. Are K-8 schools better for our kids? Or do we perhaps consider restructuring 6-8 middle schools in a way that is more conducive for student achievement? A link to the article is below.

Middle School Transition Affects Future Academic Setbacks, Study Says