With the help of educators and researchers who have been studying middle-level education, Education Week searched for successful middle schools that have demonstrated their ability to meet the social and psychological needs of their students as well as provide a rigorous academic regimen.
The four schools we selected have made great strides. In addition, large proportions of their enrollments are made up of students from poor families and those whose first language is not English—children whom many people consider to be more challenging to teach.
What our writers discovered in their visits is that no single model works best in all cases. Each school raised student achievement and improved the school climate in its own fashion.
The reporters did find some common characteristics, however. All the schools have strong principals and a corps of caring teachers who have set high—and clear—expectations for their students, and have a deep commitment to the academic mission.