Middle School Curriculum: Social Focus Yielding to Academics

Jay Matthews:

For two decades, policymakers have decreed that seventh grade should be a time when children have a chance to adjust to puberty and cliques and the other annoyances of turning 13. Lessons should be engaging and enriching, middle school advocates have said, but not put too much emphasis on mastering subject matter and passing difficult tests.
That attitude is changing, at Kenmore Middle School and in much of the rest of the country. Middle schools have “overemphasized emotional development at the expense of academic growth,” said Mike Riley, superintendent of Bellevue, Wash., schools

4 thoughts on “Middle School Curriculum: Social Focus Yielding to Academics”

  1. Initial reports were that it was supposed to be done by Asst. Superintendent Nash and a group of parents and middle school principals; however, my understanding is that it is being done by Ms. Nash and staff. When we met with Mr. Rainwater this past July, he said this subject was on the top of Ms. Nash’s to-do list, so right now I’m assuming it’s an internal process.

  2. I’ve been trying to get an update from Pam Nash for weeks. I finally got this comment via E-mail on Friday: ” The design team for middle level schools is on the district website. We will start our official work next week and will have a community/parent reaction panel for feedback and refinement.”
    I have not been able to locate this information on the district Web site. Also, I’m disheartened that parents and community members aren’t being brought in from the beginning — not even to hear our concerns so that the design team can get things off to a better start.

  3. I think this is a fairly complex issue that Pam Nash and her principals want to work on before getting “formal” parental input: Classic middle school design vs. “junior high” design. I know there are reams of debate for both models. Also, the BoE, at the behest of the Northside PTO Coalition (now the East Attendance Area PTO Coalition), is creating an Equity Resource Task Force. One goal of said task force will certainly be to create an equitable education at the middle school (and every) level, so that academic offerings are mirrored throughout the district…ditto with academic and social SUPPORT. At some point we have to have faith in Ms. Nash and her principals to get a handle on the situation. Then our opinions as parents are actually more valuable than at the outset of the process. I know MANY parents who have already made their concerns VERY clear in the wake of last spring’s debacle at Sherman. The fact that families fled en masse to O’Keefe was heard loud and clear down at the Doyle building!

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