Is Middle School Really Important? Not For Every Community, Says Education Professor

By Myka Bomediano, Parent Herald March 30, 07:38 am

The Abbotsford School Board in British Colombia recently passed a motion stating that Grades 6 and 7 should be removed from a number of elementary schools. Instead, students in those grades are being sent directly to middle schools. This decision angered parents, claiming that elementary schools play a key role in the community.

In fact, an education professor at the University of British Colombia told CBC News that elementary school is more important than middle school. This is because even though they have been around since the 1970s, middle school doesn't work for everyone.

"We don't want to do things to diminish the importance of community schools." Sandra Mathinson said. "That's a very key factor in cohesiveness, parent support in schools."

Grades 6 and 7 in elementary school take on the role of leadership. This gives a sense of community for students, which is far more important than the transitional stage of being in middle school.

Soon, middle school made its way to the United States. While the some people like Mathinson think middle school is not for everyone, Thomas Armstrong discussed in his book, "The Best Schools" that this stage of schooling is needed to provide children an environment that can help cushion the impact of puberty on their lives.

Whether intellectual, social, or emotional, educators have to understand that the developmental needs of adolescents should not be ignored. At this stage, they are neither older elementary school students, nor younger high school students. But as a Rand Corporation report puts it, "The onset of puberty is an especially poor reason for beginning a new phase of schooling."

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) said that this stage of schooling still expects children to fare well in school and get high test scores without taking into account their developmental needs. This then comes in conflict with the reason they exist in the first place, making middle school "essentially nondevelopmental for all levels of education."

People are at odds about the importance of middle school in children's development. What do you think of this issue?

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