An online discussion caught my eye the other day…parents asking questions about the differences between junior high schools and middle schools, why some other schools were identified as intermediate schools, and what the philosophical differences might be for these various schools for young adolescents.
All good questions but it made me wonder if we have lost our bearings in the last few years. Why is it that we still have people who do not understand the goals, functions, and responsive programs of middle level schools…whatever the grade configuration and the name over the door? (We’ll save the grade configuration discussion for another day!)
For 25 years, Maine has had a national reputation as a “strong” middle level state. That is, a state with a focus on young adolescents in middle level schools and appropriate schools for them. While we are still without a separate middle level teaching certification (still another discussion for this blog), Maine has pioneered some of the best work in partner teams, integrative curriculum, literacy programs, and, of course, technology and learning through MLTI.
MAMLE, the Middle Level Education Institute, graduate programs in middle level education, the Bright Futures report, and best of all, the commitment of thousands of teachers in Maine’s middle level schools over the last 25 years have focused on the needs of young adolescents. But somewhere, some time that focus shifted to the standards movement, common assessments, NCLB, teacher accountability and many, many more initiatives. Where in all of this is the focus on young adolescents and what we know makes a difference in how they are engaged and how they learn?
I’m suggesting something very simple…that every middle level school in Maine return to several key documents to read or re-read and consider the key concepts and recommendations from the following resources.
- Bright Futures report, Maine Department of Education
- This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents (2010), Association for Middle Level Education (formerly NMSA)
- And two new resources coming very soon…a new Turning Points book and a new version of Breaking Ranks from NASSP
Do you need to re-calibrate your middle level compass?
This post was written by Ed Brazee, a new member of the Bright Futures Partnership.