The White House has started a national conversation on transforming high schools to better serve all students, through their Next Gen High School Summit. This initiative will catalyze new thinking on the challenges and opportunities for advancing this agenda, and share strategies for progress.
The middle school years are increasingly recognized as a critical “make or break” period in youth’s academic success. As such, middle school reform needs to be a part of this conversation. A group of 20 organizations that directly serve middle school students is already focused on building a foundation for successful transition to High School. Over the next five years, this Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative is committing to collectively invest over half a billion dollars in private and public resources to impact the lives of over a million students by delivering high-quality expanded learning opportunities through multiple, evidence-based models and practices.
This investment, nonetheless, will only reach a portion of the middle school students in the United States. Similar to what has already been done with Preschool and Special Education, government and others in the private sector need to scale high-quality programs and make expanded learning the new normal for all middle school students.
- Studies show that attendance, grades, test scores and behavior during the middle grades all predict students’ performance in high school and their odds of graduating.
- By high school, as many as 40-60% of students are chronically disengaged from school – not counting those who have already dropped out. The Gallup Student Poll found that 7th and 8th graders account for more than half of the total decline in school engagement.
- Some research suggests that roughly two-thirds of all dropouts quit in 9th grade or are held back in 9th grade and then drop out. Intervening before high school is important for transition.
- In FY15, the federal government spent $2.5 billion on middle school students, much lower than the $26 billion spent on early childhood through 5th grade and the $31.1 billion spent on post-secondary education.
- The 20 partner groups listed below are investing over $620 million in middle school over the next 5 years to offer a range of activities that capture student interest and strengthen student engagement in learning.
- Half of the 30 fastest growing occupations in the US require math and science training. Participation in after-school math and science programs exposes students to these fields, and inspires them to consider pursuing careers in STEM.
- It is important for both government and expanded learning programs to engage around the middle school years, and help scale high-quality programs to reach more than a million students in the next 5 years.
The following organizations have signed on to be part of the Expanded Learning Middle School Initiative:
Citizen Schools, Middle Grades Partnership, High Jump, BELL, ExpandED, Spark, Higher Achievement, Every Hour Counts, Aim High, Classroom, Inc, Harlem RBI, Sprockets (Saint Paul Out of School Time Network), Horizons National, Family League of Baltimore, Million Women Mentors/STEMconnector, National Center on Time & Learning, and Partnership for Children & Youth.