Middle Schools and the Puberty Fairy
If the poorly administrated No Child Left Behind act has done one positive thing, it is that it has highlighted the struggles of Middle Schools
. (Article is free but requires registration) John Hockridge recently tried to spark a discussion on different options for grades 6 through 8 here in North Adams.
The fact is that one size does not fit all. Some kids still need more support and guidance in the adolescent years while other need challenges and academic rigor. You've got kids who still look like pre-pubescent babies mixed with others who look like, and sometimes pretend that, they are 12-going-on-18. Add to this mix a dose of raging hormones and all of a sudden you have the typical American middle school.
Do I have the answer? No. But should this issue get more discussion. Certainly. Conte M.S. has taken a lot of heat for its performance over the past few years and I've always thought it was a cop-out to use standardized test-scores to lay fault at the feet of teachers and administrators. (Yes, soon-to-be-ex-Governor Romney and all the right-wing anti-public school folks, I am talking about you.)
In a perfect world, there would be multiple options to meet the differing needs of various kids, but that is probably asking too much of an already strained district. (More on that topic someday) So the question becomes - what solutions best serve the most kids? Somehow I doubt the current model fits that bill.