Success in the Middle Act

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The reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act presents a critical opportunity to advance national middle level policy and help raise student achievement in the middle grades. The middle grades are a crucial piece of the educational pipeline because students must be proficient in reading and math to be successful in the rigorous high school coursework that will prepare them for college and the workforce. However, far too many students in the middle grades do not receive the appropriate instruction and other supports that would prepare them for such coursework:

• According to the 2005 National Assessment on Educational Progress (NAEP), fewer than one-third of the students in eighth grade can read and write with proficiency; in math, only 30 percent of students in eighth grade perform at the proficient level, and nearly a third score below the basic level.
• Sixth-grade students who do not attend school regularly, who receive poor behavior marks, or who fail math or English have no more than a 10 percent chance of graduating high school on time and a 20 percent chance of graduating one year late.
• Only 11% of 8th grade students taking ACT's EXPLORE assessment are on-track to succeed in first-year college-level English, Algebra, Biology, and social science courses.
• If Title I was distributed on the basis of student populations, middle level schools (representing 23 percent of the nation’s student population) would receive approximately $2.92 billion of the current Title I allocation. Yet, of the $12.7 billion appropriated in FY 2005 for Title I, only $1.27 billion (10 percent) is allocated to middle level schools by the states

There are interventions to remedy this crisis in the middle grades. The Middle Schools Improvement Fund would offer federal support to improve the education of middle grades students in low-performing schools by:

1. Authorizing $1billion a year for formula grants to states to provide grants to local school districts to improve low performing schools that contain middle grades.
2. States receiving the grants would implement a plan to improve student achievement that describes what students are required to know and do to successfully complete the middle grades and make the transition to succeed in an academically rigorous high school that prepares students for postsecondary education and the workplace. This would include the development of early warning data systems to identify those students most at-risk of dropping out and intervening to help them succeed.
3. States and districts would invest in proven strategies such as:

a. providing professional development to school leaders, teachers and other school personnel in addressing the needs of diverse learners and in using challenging and relevant research-based best practices and curriculum;

b. developing and implementing comprehensive, school-wide improvement efforts in eligible schools (schools containing middle level grades from which more than 50% of students go on to attend a high school with a graduation rate of less than 60%, or schools containing middle level grades in which more than 25% of students who finish their first middle grades year in the school exhibit key risk factors and early warning signs, including attendance below 90%, a failing grade in English or Math or 2 failing grades in any courses, suspension or other evidence of poor behavior, or schools containing middle level grades in which more than 50% of students in middle grades do not perform at a proficient level on state NCLB math and reading tests);

and
c. implementing student supports such as extended learning time, personal graduation plans and coaching, that enable all students to stay on the path to graduation.

4. Authorizing an additional $100 million to facilitate the generation, dissemination, and application of research needed to identify and implement effective practices that lead to continual student learning and high academic achievement at the middle level.

Download the attached files and act now.

AttachmentSize
Success in the Middle Support Letter30 KB
Success in the Middle Act26 KB