January 13, 2014
Check out our new report: Keeping Middle School Students on Track for Success
The middle grades, generally ages 11-14, are a period of major transition for children. They experience the physical changes that coincide with puberty. They are also developing both socially and emotionally as they explore their identities and peers become more important fixtures in their lives. For many students, entering the sixth grade means starting a new school with new classmates, new teachers and new learning structures. The middle school years lay the foundation for achievement in high school making it a crucial time to identify students who are struggling and get them the help that they need to succeed academically.
Today, CCC released a new brief, Keeping Middle School Students on Track for Success: Risk Identification and Intervention in the Middle Grades, which includes findings and recommendations from our project aimed at documenting national best practices and gaining an understanding of what some NYC schools are doing to identify and respond to struggling middle school students.
This brief is the result of a year-long research project, which included a literature review and interviews with NYC experts from schools, school support networks, after-school programs and organizations that provide technical assistance to middle schools.
Our research provided insights on many promising strategies for identifying struggling students and intervening to support them. For example, our findings show that a few key indicators, including attendance, behavior and course performance, can help to determine which students are at risk for falling off track. Also, a school’s environment and the capacity of the school to respond to students’ needs are important in setting students up for success.
The brief makes recommendations regarding the importance of professional development and support for teachers, ongoing support for parent engagement and linkages within communities, and the need for more restorative justice approaches to discipline that keep students engaged in school.