The Boston Globe's James Vaznis reports that middle schools in Massachusetts -- which cover any combination of grades 5 through 8, depending on the school district -- have become the low part in a hammock of test scores:
Two-thirds of the state's middle schools are not meeting federal standards for raising standardized test scores, about twice the rate of elementary and high schools, according to a Globe analysis of state data.
The findings are raising questions about the best teaching practices for students wading through the turbulent years of puberty, first crushes, and short attention spans.
But concern about the middle school teaching model isn't new. Last year, CommonWealth magazine's Michael Jonas reported on the idea of eliminating the schools altogether:
“Middle schools are the great disaster of the education system,” says Robert Gaudet, senior policy analyst at the University of Massachusetts’s Donahue Institute, who has extensively studied school performance across the state. A 2004 report from the Rand Corp. concluded that there is “weak empirical support” for the idea of separate schools for this three-year span, and it recommended consideration of models that reduce the number of transitions children make between schools.