Transition to middle school may be a crucial time period for support

From eSchoolNews December 9th :

“A new study, part of the Program on Education Policy and Governance Working Papers Series at Harvard University, finds the transition to middle school from elementary school may be more crucial and problematic than the transition from middle to high school, Sarah Sparks reports in Education Week. The study of schools in Florida found that students moving from grade 5 into middle school show a “sharp drop” in math and language arts achievement in the transition year, a loss that can follow them as far as 10th grade, in some cases affecting ability to graduate and proceed to college. Students who transition in the 6th grade are absent more often and more likely to drop out of school by 10th grade than those who remain in one school through 8th grade. Researchers used Florida’s longitudinal database to track more than 450,000 students in the state’s public schools who proceeded from grades 3 to 10 between 2000-01 and 2008-09. Students who attended elementary schools ending at grade 5 had an early edge over those attending K-8 schools, but their performance in mathematics and language arts dropped dramatically when they switched to middle school in 6th grade. Students attending a middle school were also 18 percent more likely than students who attended a K-8 school to not enroll in grade 10 after attending grade 9 — an indicator of dropping out. The middle school drop was most pronounced in urban schools, but the same general pattern was repeated in suburban and rural schools.”

We think this is some interesting data for a developmental time period that has been often overlooked.  We’d love to hear your opinion: are there things we could do to support kids’ transition to middle school? 

To learn more about the research, read the full story.

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