What the science tells us about improving middle school grades
Over the last 20 years, scientists have learned a lot about how the adolescent brain works and what motivates middle schoolers. Yet a lot of their findings aren’t making it into classroom practice. That’s partly because teacher prep programs haven’t kept pace with the research, and partly because overburdened teachers don’t have the time to study and implement it.
Today, some 70 years after reformers launched a movement to make the middle grades more responsive to the needs of early adolescents, too many middle schools continue to operate like mini high schools, on a “cells and bells” model, said Chad Ratliff, the principal of Community Lab School.
“Traditional middle schools are very authoritarian, controlling environments,” said Ratliff. “A bell rings, and you have three minutes to shuffle to the next thing.”
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