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Column One: Administrators

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The National Association of Secondary School Principals has released a report on scheduling middle-level classes to meet the needs of adolescent students.

The report, written by Ronald Williamson, the executive director of the National Middle Schools Association, describes how physical and cognitive changes in adolescents, as well as their desire to seek greater independence from adults, create special scheduling challeges for middle-level schools.

The author advocates, among other approaches, a flexible scheduling model under which teaching teams are given blocks of time to work with students. While the interdisciplinary approach sometimes complicates staff scheduling and planning, it may "insure that adolescents receive instruction in an environment that responds to their developmental needs and reflects an understanding of the variables that promote increased student achievement,'' according to the report.

The 57-page report includes a time line for administrators to follow in developing and implementing the new schedule.

It also explores school-transition programs, which help students advance from elementary to middle school or from one grade to another, and personnel practices that insure that teachers are hired and assigned based on their competencies in the middle grades.

Copies of the report, "Scheduling the Middle Level School to Meet Early Adolescent Needs,'' are available for $9 each plus $3 shipping and handling from the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Sales Department, 1904 Association Dr., Reston, Va. 22091-1537. The ordering number is 2109307.


The American Association of School Administrators has produced "Caught in the Middle,'' a guide to unleashing the potential of average students.

Low expectations, tracking, passive learning, and overextended teachers are among the factors that keep students with average abilities from excelling in school, the report says.

According to the report, school personnel must be trained to personalize education and to use such alternative forms of assessment as portfolios and classroom demonstrations to evaluate students' work.

In addition, it finds, school programs that have succeeded in challenging students "in the middle'' typically involve teachers, administrators, and parents in site-based decisionmaking.

Copies of the report are available for $5 each from the American Association of School Administrators, Publications Department, 1801 North Moore St., Arlington, Va. 22209-9988.--J.R.

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