What will do the most to improve middle school education?

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Mark Doebrich (not verified)

I believe that Ms. Teitelman

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I believe that Ms. Teitelman has written well. I'm currently at the Ohio Middle School Association Conference with 700 colleagues who, in different ways, agree with Carol's statement and are proud to state so. Our answer to improving Middle Childhood Education is not centered in any one building configuration or one simple plan. Please review the websites of the Ohio Middle School and National Middle School Associations! Posted By: Carol Teitelman February 20, 2007 at 5:53 pm TO improve middle schools, provide robust, comprehensive, differentiated professional development. Provide adequate time for teams to work together to develop professional communities of learning.
Chuck Fellows (not verified)

Please pay close attention

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Please pay close attention to the posts from Ms. Havert and Ms. Quayle. They are right on target! Two key ingrediants are identified, emotional intelligence and the integration of academic disciplines that accomodates different rates of development. Add the knowledge that those who teach and administer in educational settings are usually gifted in the sequential/verbal domain, and that the majority of students intellectual strengths reside in other areas. Recognize that in the history of mankind that abstract symbols and formal language structures began about 5,000 years ago and became a dominate form less than 1,000 years ago. For the other 50,000 or so years of human development visual abilities were essential for survival. In sum, its the old "square peg in a round hole" difficulty. Children that don't fit do not have a learning disability; they suffer from eduation's teaching disability. (a fixed paradigm rooted in the deification of the verbal) And, through technology, our children are becoming more visual. It is not the child that must conform, it is the system of education.
Bryan Wilkins (not verified)

You need discipline. Most

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You need discipline. Most Middle schools I have substitued in are almost out-of-control. They also lacked standards for instruction. Too much "feel good" education and not enough teaching and learning. A harsh evaluation I realize, but unless you get the school under control, students can not learn. Students are passed on to high school with extremely poor reading and study skills. In this school district, almost half of the 9th grade class does not make enough credits to be in the 10th grade, at the end of their first year. The 9th grade class also has more disciplinary referrals than the rest of the grades combined. No joke. Sad situation.
Harriet Winters (not verified)

Our system of educating K

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Our system of educating K through 12th grade students is not effective and the financial resources are not efficiently utilized. The deep anguish that I feel over this issue is knowing that for over thirty years our education system has been meeting the needs to fill low wage earner jobs—and does not serve to meet the needs of today's or tomorrow's society. In fact it is scary to imagine the consequences that we currently endure (the ever widening poverty gap and the extenuating calamity that follows)—and in the future the precarious position our country will have to deal with as a result to being almost singularly supportive of public school initiatives, as we know it today, has served to accomplish. It is important to clarify the purpose of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)—to improve academic standards and accountability in education. However, what few people know—is that the NCLB act has given autonomy to the local districts to determine their own standards. And the Pennsylvania (the state that I live in) Department of Education's role in that liberal trust has created a standardize test (PSSA) that the benchmarks for success are low enough that the results from the PSSA test look favorable to the general public. Additionally, the NCLB act states that educators have until 2014 to get students up to grade level in math and reading. What it is really saying is that educators have until 2014 to get their act together. This criterion of incremental success is an outrage!! Children need quality and strategies for success now! What the NCLB act really amounts too can be comparable to appeasement before WWII. Our federal government has taken a weak stand on improving education in this country and my daughter who is in 6th grade will be graduating in 2014. She needs a strong curriculum now not later after graduating. My instincts tell me that when 2014 rolls around not much in education will have changed. With the federal government and the state governments both satisfied with incremental improvements, they will probably be satisfied to move the ETA for academic success from 2014 to 2020 and so on and so on. From a global perspective, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) report list mathematics and science test scores for 4th and 8th grade students. Our nationalistic rhetoric of the so called advantages and superiority of our nation is nothing more than rhetoric. Our country's student achievement levels are anywhere from the sixth to the fifteenth position in math and science. Below is the status of the United States from the most recent TIMSS report positioning our country far below many other countries: Position Grade Subject 12 4 Mathematics 6 4 Science 15 8 Mathematics 9 8 Science My opinion on the NAEP's Nations Report Card listing Pennsylvania at the 31st position of 50 states and the TIMSS report are very enlightening with regard to the quality, or more accurately stated the lack of quality toward the purpose of education. The lack of quality in education is the direct result of the control of one bureaucratic group in command of the resources (young malleable minds, infrastructure, and tax dollars) akin to a socialist society. And, the majority of our culture remaining satisfied with handing over the responsibility of care in education to that bureaucratic group (teacher/administrator unions; and political alliances). If we as a society continue to ignore the plight of public primary and secondary education--our society will suffer further along with the consequences of diminished credibility from the international community. From the time education issues became a point of interest for me I have been of the strongly held believe that only through competition can the quality of education go up and the cost go down. The taxation system to provide public school education is also a very important issue for me as well. The cost of education has gone beyond the marginal utility and has reached the point of diminishing returns. It has been argued by many public school advocates that they need additional funding; however, studies have shown regarding increases to funding education there is no correlation between increases to test scores, hence diminishing return. Likewise stated, that the first few billion invested in public school education results in greater satisfaction benefited by all involved, but as more resources are used to fund education—satisfaction levels are not as great; eventually, as more money is pumped into the system utility decreases. Let me be perfectly clear that I do not think the current education system needs more funds. As I have already mentioned, there have been more than enough studies that have shown that increased funding has no effect on increasing test scores or academic achievements. What this country needs is better strategies through competition and shifting the flow of the resources. Our polititians need to be the innovator of a legislative movement that aims to improve education through competition. Our political leaders need to lead the way through progressive reform measures. I firmly believe based on sound economic principles that only through competition can the quality of a product or service increase and the cost of providing the product or service decrease when barriers to entrance in the education market are removed. I am mystified that there hasn't been more discussion in favor of fixing education through competition. As it stands I'm sure comparing our education system to the term socialist system wouldn't be a surprise to advocates for choice. Ironically we live in a democratic society that prides itself on freedom of speech and freedom of choice. History has shown us that countries that favor socialism fail to meet the needs of the people, and yet we have embraced that same socialism in our education system without reflection. With the challenges we face as a society—our government has to become more dynamic, flexible, and innovative in dealing with these challenges. We Americans are not only losing the war in Iraq, we have many aggressive fronts here in our own country that is wearing away the heart and soul of our civilization—fronts that have been created by government policies favoring the public education system. The battles I am referring to are: the economic hardships of the ever widening poverty and low income population; aggressive and criminal behavior that is a consequence of a society that is suffering economic hardships; and apathy that comes from the belief that the ship is sinking and it is every man for him/her self. Only through competition can we cultivate a society with higher educational aspirations.
Leonard Isenberg (not verified)

The quantifiable failure of

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The quantifiable failure of students that continues to manifest itself in middle school is due to the continued practice of social promotion from elementary school onward. While teaching to grade level standards is a good idea, it logically and rationally presupposes the mastery of prior grade level standards. This is not presently the case in LAUSD, where most elementary schools fail to lay adequate ground work for Cognitive Academic Language Production (CALP), which is a requisite skill across the curriculum for adequately functioning in middle and high school. Students who do not have the language skills to be engaged become disruptive of the educational process, which is no small factor in the 50% attrition rate of new teachers. What it would take to turn around public education is not difficult or expensive. You can start anywhere and find that all the factors of the present dysfunctional system are interrelated. If the leaders of our educational system do not implement these changes, it can only be assumed that they do not want to, because an uneducated citizenry is much more compliant and, lamentably, unable to fulfill their constitutionally anticipated function of keeping government in check.
Darlene Quayle (not verified)

Middle School students need

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Middle School students need to find purpose and relevant challenge in their curriculum and peer group. At the transitional age, students develop physically and mentally at varying rates, not necessarily corresponding to their chronological growth. The most success I have seen for middle schoolers is through multi-age interest-based classes. Through their interests, student can meet academic challenges, learning research, reading and writing skills through social studies and science topics. They can delve into math problem-solving as groups and individuals with problems that relate to their daily lives and future careers. Since not all single-grade students are at the same level, students who need more help are not isolated from their age-group peers, and students who are ahead similarly do not feel isolated. Students performing at a so-called "average" level, can be introduced to material that is a challenge for them--setting higher standards for themselves and for the group, and can also see a refresher in skills they may not have seen for a year or more. Working with a broader range of peers, students learn tolerance and role-modeling. They learn to tutor or help students who need it, and how to find help from others besides the teacher when they need it. In a multi-age classroom, students learn leadership skills. These are skills that will follow them into their future lives--after all, they will not end up in an employment situation where all their coworkers have the same age and abilities! I work in a K-12 alternative program, where our classes are divided into interest topics and students are grouped together by wide bands of ages (K-4, K-7, 5-8, 7-12, 9-12, etc.). The benefits of these multi-age, interest-driven classes has shown me that students achieve when presented with a variety of peers and a choice in their personal academic challenges. We are developing and producing conscientious citizens and leaders.
Rhonda Browning (not verified)

1. Readjust the system back

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1. Readjust the system back to the Junior High concept. Keep sixth graders in elementary. Make Junior high 7,8, 9. 6th graders, especially boys, are too immature for middle school. 9th graders are too immature for high school. 2. Let talented 9th graders take some high school classes or to get some of the boring subjects over with so as to leave room for the interesting ones. Don't less mature students to older students sooner than necessary. Let them earn their freshman year credits in the junior high environment so that they can start high school with a good GPA Keep the 6th graders in the warm, nurturing, elementary environment for another year so they can grow up. 3. Shrink classes to the sizes of an elementary level class. Keep the schools small, 2-500 children. Do not consider these children "secondary" and don't treat them like young adults, but like older children. They are less likely to act like teenagers if the expectations are that they are children. Get rid of the coldness and harsh discipline common to high schools that damages impulsive middle schoolers. 4. Consider a 6+ or 8+ level for children who need another year of school to catch up De-emphasize graduating "on time". You finish school when you are done. Everyone learns at their own speed. We are not all the same. Let them grow up. 5. Put a heavy emphasis on literacy but use content based classes to teach it. 6. Children who get through the 8th grade and are 2 grades behind in reading, language arts or math calculation should be evaluated for assistance from special education before they leave the 8th grade. No child who has a disability that affects learning should ever enter high school without the protection of an IEP. Ignore the political stance that there are too many kids in special ed. 7. Provide career related education/experience in the middle grades. Don't expect everyone to be "college prep". Teach children that good work habits and a skill can be just as valuable as a college degree. 8. Direct appropriate students toward a Career Prep or Vocational diploma in high school. Change the system. Make sure there are options. Make sure they know there are options. Do this before they get all hung up about status and college---while in middle school.
Deborah Williams Havert (not verified)

To improve Middle School

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To improve Middle School Education--- Implement an Emotional Intelligence assessment and curriculum for all of the Middle School students. If they can learn to improve the 8 competencies of Emotional Intelligence of Emotional Literacy, Recognizing Their Own Patterns, Navigating Emotions, Engaging in Intrinsic Motivation, Exercising Optimism, Applying Consequential Thinking, Increasing Empathy, and Pursuing Noble Goals they will have a better understanding of their academics and their social interactions with all of the school community. In addition, with the use of these 4 components for all lessons: choice, multisensory activities, interactive activities, and humor, the students will be more fully engaged in their own education. Also having the students take a learning style profile enables the students to know more about how they learn and what strategies to use in their own learning.
Jennifer Christie- Searles (not verified)

Students need more more

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Students need more more hands on learning time. Less lectures, more activity and real life connections. Make learning meaningful to and for the STUDENT.
Cecilia Johnstone (not verified)

To improve Middle School

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To improve Middle School Education - Reduce class sizes!! Middle schooolers can easily feel 'lost' in the crowd of a classroom. Teachers can provide much needed one - on - one or small group learning with smaller class sizes. Consider an 'intermediate model' of grades 5-6 together as a transition school. Have block rotations of specials such as art, music, world language and phy ed. Sixth graders would sometimes be grouped with other students and have another teacher for math or science, etc. These opportunites provide a transition experience before going to junior high. Then keep grades 7 & 8 as a junior high with lower class sizes. Use a team model approach to provide a smaller community within a larger setting. Teachers would meet regularly as a team to plan & provide the best educational differentiation for the students. Ninth Grade could be high school or grouped with 7 & 8.
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