Education: The Middle Years, Ages 10 to 14

Adopted January 1989 – Revised February 2014 – Education Commission

The California State PTA recognizes that young adolescents have special needs. Early adolescence is a time of rapid physical, emotional, social, and intellectual changes. These years serve as a transition, the vital link between childhood and older adolescence.

The California State PTA believes that schools for the middle grades must:

  • Address the personal developmental needs of adolescent students in order to open the way for academic achievement and to provide a successful transition from elementary to middle grades to high school
  • Have a commitment to and a sincere concern for its students;
  • Create a student centered environment where staff encourages each individual student to feel a sense of connectedness to the school;
  • Provide students access to high quality, standards-based core curriculum;
  • Provide a nurturing environment with ready access to counseling;
  • Create and sustain a safe and healthy school environment; and
  • Create opportunities for families to support the learning process at home and at school.

PTA further believes there are certain components that are essential to middle grade educational programs including, but not limited to:

  • A configuration that groups grades 6, 7, and 8 or the creation of a “school-within-a-school” for those grades;
  • A daily schedule that allows for blocks of instructional time to accommodate interdisciplinary team teaching and the integration of core curriculum subjects in groupings with instruction that meets the academic needs of all students;
  • A credentialed staff (teachers, counselors and administrators) which
    • Is committed to working with middle grade students;
    • Is qualified to teach young adolescents and who has been specially prepared for assignments to the middle grades;
    • Implements instructional programs that enhance the intellectual and emotional development of all students.
  • A variety of staff development options to enable teachers to learn teaching strategies that have proven effective with students of this age group;
  • A comprehensive and flexible guidance/counseling plan to help students, with involvement of their parents, develop career and educational goals that is developed with students and their parents;
  • A student advisement program, in addition to program counseling services, that provides students a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult throughout the middle grade years to assure continuity in providing advice on academic, personal and peer-relationship matters; and
  • A strong parent education/involvement program designed to
    • Help parents understand the physical, social, and intellectual needs of young adolescent students, and how the school may assist in meeting these needs;
    • Assist parents to understand the importance of the development of an educational plan that ensures academic growth and a successful transition from school-to-work;
    • Give parents meaningful roles in school governance;
    • Communicate with families about the school program and students’ progress; and

PTA further believes that all education stakeholders are accountable for ensuring every child has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

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