California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II


Middle School Philosophy

Caught in the Middle: Educational Reform for Young Adolescents in California Public Schools. Sacramento: California Department of Education, 1987.

  1. Core Curriculum: Every middle grade student should pursue a common, comprehensive, academically oriented core curriculum irrespective of primary language or ethnic background (page 2).

  2. Knowledge: Every middle grade student should be empowered with the knowledge derived
    from studying the ideas, experiences, and traditions found in the core, elective, and exploratory curricula (page 8).

  3. Thinking and Communication: Every middle grade student should develop the capacities for critical thought and effective communication (page 13).

  4. Character Development:  Every middle grade student should be helped to personalize ideas and to develop the ability to make reasoned moral and ethical choices (page 20).

  5. Learning to Learn: Every middle grade student should develop a repertoire of learning strategies and study skills which emphasizes the goal of independent learning (page 24).

  6. Instructional Practice:  Instructional practice should emphasize active learning strategies which are consistent with the goals of the core curriculum and the developmental characteristics of young adolescents (page 35).

  7. Academic Counseling: Every middle grade student should have timely information about the relationship between the curricula of the middle and secondary grades and should be provided access to the opportunity to prepare for the broadest possible range of academic options (curriculum paths) in high school (page 48).

  8. Equal Access: Every middle grade student should have access to the most advanced levels of curricula offered during each of the middle grades; this opportunity should be facilitated through educational policies and practices which make the highest level of content mastery a valid and obtainable goal for vastly increased numbers of students (page 55).

  9. Student Diversity and Underrepresented Minorities: Every underrepresented minority middle grade student should receive encouragement and incentives to pursue academic and occupational goals (page 59).

  10. At-Risk Students: Many middle grade students are “at risk” of dropping out of school; they should have access to educational programs which emphasize personal commitments to academic achievement (page 65).

  11. Physical and Emotional Development: Many middle grade students require specific primary health care services and strong counseling and guidance programs in order to be able to concentrate their intellectual abilities on academic goals (page 71).

  12. School Culture: Every middle grade student should experience a positive school culture which reflects a strong, student-centered educational philosophy (page 80).

  13. Extracurricular and Intramural Activities: Every middle grade student should have access to extracurricular and intramural programs which develop a sense of personal connectedness to school through activities which promote participation, interaction, competition, and service (page 85).

  14. Student Accountability: Every middle grade student should be accountable for significant standards of academic excellence and personal behavior (page 87).

  15. Transition: Every middle grade student should experience a successful and positive transition among elementary, middle, and secondary levels of school organization (page 91).

  16. Structure: Middle grade education should be identified with grades 6, 7, and 8; disparities in state funding formulas among elementary, high school, and unified school districts should be eliminated for these grades (page 98).

  17. Scheduling: An Expression of Middle Grade Philosophy: The school schedule for the middle grades should be a direct reflection of a sound educational philosophy and should facilitate equal access by all students to the full range of instructional programs and student support services (page 106).

  18. Assessment: Assessment programs for the middle grades should be comprehensive; they should include measurement of a broad range of educational goals related to student achievement and program effectiveness; the primary purposes of middle grade assessment should be to compile data which lead to improved curriculum and instructional programs and more effective student support services (page 112).

  19. Professional Preparation: Middle grade teachers and principals should be prepared to teach/administer grades 6, 7, and 8; specialized preparation should address the content areas of the core curriculum, instructional strategies which emphasize active learning, and the developmental characteristics of young adolescents (page 118).

  20. Staff Development: Middle grade teachers and principals should participate in comprehensive, well-planned, long-range staff development programs which emphasize professional collegiality (page 125).

  21. Parents, Communities, and School Boards: Parents, communities, and school boards should share accountability for middle grade educational reform (page 1334).

  22. State-of-the-art Middle Grade Schools: A partnership involving local school districts, institutions of higher education, and the State Department of Education should be created to facilitate the development of 100 state-of-the-art middle grade schools; the mission of these schools should be to serve as a catalyst for middle grade educational reform  throughout California (page 140).

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