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Academic Achievement in the Middle Grades: What Does Research Tell

Academic Achievement in the Middle Grades: What Does Research Tell

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Published by: mohdazhan on Oct 21, 2009
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 Academic Achievementin the Middle Grades: What Does Research Tell Us?
 A Review of the Literature 
SouthernRegionalEducationBoard592 10th St. N.W. Atlanta, GA 30318(404) 875-9211 www.sreb.org
M
 AKING
M
IDDLE
G
RADES
 W 
ORK 
M
 AKING
S
CHOOLS
 W 
ORK 
 
Progress toward this goal will be measured by:
n
Percentages of all groups of students meeting stateacademic standards in reading, writing, mathematics,science and social studies increase annually to reach100 percent.
n
 Achievement gaps are closed in meeting state stan-dards for all groups of middle grades students.
n
Percentages of eighth-grade students who meet theproficient achievement level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress are raised to abovethe national averages in reading, mathematics and sci-ence. All students meet the basic achievement level.
n
The percentages of all groups of students who suc-cessfully complete Algebra I by the end of eighthgrade increase. All other students complete Algebra Iin grade nine.Many aspects of the middle grades need to change. Toaccomplish the SREB middle grades goals and fulfill themission of preparing all students for demanding highschool studies, middle grades educators need to know what works in raising student achievement.The
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
requires schools touse scientifically-based research to improve student achieve-ment. Scientifically-based research provides evidence on how and why a program or practice works, its effect on studentachievement, and its success in various settings and situa-tions. SREB and MPR Associates Inc. have prepared thisreview of what research tells us works in the middle grades.The purpose of the review is to help schools gather research-based evidence regarding links between reform strategies,student achievement and other student outcomes. When we began this review, we expected that the mid-dle grades literature would provide strong evidence of suc-cessful strategies for improving student achievement.Instead we found a modest base of research to guide middlegrades policy and practices. Based on current research, thebest practices for improving achievement for all middlegrades students include:
n
Providing an accelerated and rich core curriculumconsisting of topics in algebra and geometry, labora-tory-based science, weekly writing in all classes, andextensive reading of all types of materials in
all 
classesfor
all 
students;
n
Setting high academic expectations and creating asupportive climate of encouragement and extra timeand help for students who need it;
n
Engaging students in challenging, hands-on assign-ments that require them to practice new skills, thatincorporate their interests, and that relate to life out-side the school;
n
Providing families with information about school andtheir student’s progress, and encouraging discussionsbetween parents and students about educational andcareer goals;
n
Grouping students to help them connect what they are learning across the curriculum and linking themto a caring adult within the school;
n
Coordinating curriculum, sharing data amongschools that send and receive students, and preparingstudents for success in high school; and
n
 Assigning highly qualified teachers to every classroom.
1
Goals for Education: Challenge to Lead 
is available at www.sreb.org.
Foreword
T
he 16 Southern Regional Education Board states have committed their educational systems to reaching every studentthrough a series of 12 goals designed to lead the nation in educational achievement.
1
The goals focus on three themes:getting all students ready — for first grade, for high school, and for postsecondary education and beyond; closing achieve-ment gaps among groups of students; and providing a unified system of education. One of the 12 goals speaks specifically to the middle grades: “Achievement in the middle grades for all groups of students exceeds national averages and perform-ance gaps are closed.”Gene BottomsSenior Vice PresidentSouthern Regional Education Board
 
Table of Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .iCurrent State of Middle Grades Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1Middle Grades Education Reform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2Middle Grades Achievement: What the Evidence Says . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3Curriculum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Academic Climate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5Engagement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7Parental Involvement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8School Size and Classroom Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8Transition to High School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9Teacher Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10Encouraging Links among Research, Practices and Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

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