Last week's Time was all about "being 13." Its conclusion: "Today's 13-year-olds, growing up in a world more connected, more competitive, more complex than the one their parents had to navigate as kids, so far show every sign of rising to the challenge." Perhaps, but are their schools "rising to the challenge," too? There are ample reasons for concern, as one of the articles in the package, "Is Middle School Bad for Kids?" explains. Conceived twenty-five years ago as a nurturing environment for angst-ridden early adolescents, the middle school has become the place where student achievement goes to die. As the recently released NAEP trend scores show (click here for more), 13-year-olds' achievement gains are paltry and disappear altogether by the time students leave high school. Time notes a retro trend emerging in cities like Milwaukee and Philadelphia - the K-8 school. But ultimately, "Educators on both sides of the debate tend to agree that how the grades are packaged ultimately matters less than what's happening inside the school." Indeed - just take a look at the latest study on 27 KIPP middle schools, which have posted "large and significant gains" in student achievement. Stay tuned for a debate in mid-September, hosted by the Fordham Foundation, on what should be done to improve the performance of U.S. 13-year-olds, building on Cheri Yecke's forthcoming volume on middle schools.
"Being 13," by Nancy Gibbs, Time, August 8, 2005
"Is Middle School Bad For Kids?" by Claudia Wallis, Time, August 8, 2005
"Study Finds Big Gains For KIPP," by Jay Mathews, The Washington Post, August 11, 2005