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March 16, 2016
Join a club, get to know a teacher: one school’s push for success starts with relationships
Extracurricular participation and strong student-teacher relationships aren't left to chance at Louisville Middle. School leaders say they're critical to student success.
January 27, 2016
Inside McGlone Elementary, a rising Denver turnaround school with even higher hopes
“I’m really proud of everything our school has done,” principal Sara Gips Goodall said. “It’s still not enough.”
Politics & Policy
January 19, 2016
For IPS, middle school test score struggles are a puzzle to solve
After a strong push to move away from combined middle and high schools, what comes next?
December 8, 2015
Why I transformed my sixth grade science class into a coding class, and how you can too
A science teacher at Excellence Girls Charter School explains why she decided that her school needed more than a coding club.
June 5, 2015
IPS board to Ferebee: Discontinue 7-12 high schools
Instead, board members said they want to see well-developed middle grades programs form at IPS's elementary schools.
November 13, 2014
For students aged 17 and in eighth grade, a Bronx middle school tries to break through
New Directions Secondary School is designed for students who are overage – some eighth-graders may be as old as 18 – and in danger of dropping out of school.
stuck in the middle
September 10, 2014
One-fourth of city's middle school students are older than their classmates, report says
Nearly a quarter of the city’s middle-school students — or more than 50,000 pupils — are at least one year older than their classmates, in most cases because they have been held back before, according to a new report by an advocacy group.
Summer in the city
June 10, 2014
In its third year, an expanded Summer Quest looks to prove its academic effects
As the city pushes to expand out-of-school time programming for middle schoolers, a summer camp with a mixed record will grow significantly next month.
March 3, 2014
New details on after-school expansion include higher per-student costs
A report released by the mayor's office provides the first glimpse into how the city wants to spend $190 million more on after-school programs, and its per-student cost estimates indicate that the plan has undergone significant shifts over the last few months.
January 14, 2014
How sticky notes help my students read novels independently
In a First Person piece, teacher Ariel Sacks shares a strategy she uses to help her diverse group of students read and understand whole novels on their own — an unusual goal for a middle school class.
Middle School Matters
January 9, 2014
De Blasio drops by Bronx dance class to highlight after-school plan
Much of de Blasio’s energy since taking office has gone into the politics of getting expanded prekindergarten funded. But his proposed tax hike on top earners — which requires state approval — would also finance more after-school programs for middle school students. Today, de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña visited M.S. 331 to see a model program in action.
January 10, 2013
City might take special ed funding back from schools midyear
Changes meant to help schools overhaul their special education programs have instead left principals scrambling for a budget fix. Middle and high school principals are learning this week that the Department of Education is planning to take back thousands of dollars earmarked to help their schools serve students with special needs — over a budget technicality. "Students with disabilities are the ones who lose out in this — and schools’ ability to provide what [students] need," said a principal whose school faces a cut. The issue stems from a new funding formula adopted this year as part of the Department of Education's efforts to bring students with disabilities out of self-contained classes whenever possible.
December 11, 2012
Middle schools weakest in arts, too, city finds in annual report
The city's Annual Arts in Schools Report shows that fewer middle schools have reported offering each arts discipline every year since 2010, according to the city's Annual Arts in Schools Report. One in five city eighth-graders graduated from middle school last year without completing the state's basic requirements for arts education. That data point is one of many contained in the city's Annual Arts in Schools Report, which tallies arts instruction, staff, and spending. At an event for arts advocates this morning to launch the report, Department of Education officials emphasized that schools' time devoted to and money spent on arts instruction held steady or increased since last year. But they said there remain major areas where improvement is needed. "We have to do more work with middle schools," said Chancellor Dennis Walcott, echoing a sentiment he has expressed many times since launching an initiative aimed at boosting the city's lagging middle schools last year. He said the department would convene a special committee to study arts in middle schools and make recommendations for changes. Just 81 percent of last year's eighth-graders graduated having fulfilled the state's arts requirement of one credit in two different disciplines. In 2010, that figure was 85 percent. And the requirements are weaker than what the state originally set out: Walcott said the city had gotten a waiver from the state to allow dance and theater classes to count toward the graduation requirement, in addition to music and visual art.
October 24, 2012
Even with no model middle school, city expands literacy push
Greg Linton, an 8th grade humanities teacher at M.S. 266, takes notes on his school's literacy data. Nearly a year after beginning their search for an exceptional middle school to lead a push to boost literacy in struggling schools, city officials have concluded that no school is good enough. After the city launched its Middle School Quality Initiative last year, it selected two dozen underperforming schools to receive special training and thousands of dollars in program funding. Then it picked more successful schools to be "anchors" that would teach them. Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School became a model for teacher collaboration, and schools were sent to M.S. 244 to learn about using data to detect signs that students are at-risk. The city also wanted to push the 23 schools on literacy, where their students especially lagged. But officials said they could find no middle school strong enough to use as the emblem of the literacy initiative. "There isn't an anchor we could turn to to say, 'Show us the magic of how it's all done together,'" said Nancy Gannon, the department official overseeing MSQI. Nonetheless, as MSQI expanded from 24 schools at first (six with only partial funding) to 49 this year, the department also expanded the initiative’s literacy program. The schools are getting extra funds and monthly trainings focused exclusively on literacy, in a program that officials consider it the most significant part of the citywide initiative.
October 1, 2012
More schools met threshold for closure on new progress reports
Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky briefed reporters on the new progress report cards this morning. Almost twice as many elementary and middle schools are eligible for closure under the Department of Education’s longstanding rules this year, according to the schools’ 2011-2012 progress reports. Since 2007, the city has given schools a letter grade each year based largely on calculations of their students’ test scores. Schools that receive an F, D, or three consecutive C’s or worse can be closed. Last year, 120 schools fell into that category, and the department ultimately moved to close 10 of them. But this year, 217 schools received those grades, suggesting that this year’s closure toll could be greater than in the past. The most dramatic change was a jump in schools receiving their third straight grade of C or below — from just five last year to 114 this year. The striking jump is a late-onset effect of the state’s 2010 decision to raise the proficiency bar on its state tests. In 2009, just two schools had received F’s and 84 percent earned A’s. But that year, most schools saw their test scores fall, and nearly 70 percent of schools saw their progress report grades drop, too. The progress reports released today were the third since the change. Caught in the metrics were some popular schools, such as Central Park East I and the Earth School in Manhattan, as well as 16 of Staten Island’s 52 elementary and middle schools.
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