National News Roundup
Districts seeking to restructure their middle schools should make sure teachers and principals receive sustained training and participate in "the full process of planning, promoting, and implementing changes," advises a report from the National Association of State Boards of Education.
The report draws on observations from the first two years of a restructuring effort launched by the Seattle school district in partnership with nasbe and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.
Key elements of the project's success, it states, include providing time and resources for teachers and principals to plan improvements; assigning staff members to work with families and other agencies; and forging links with businesses and community organizations.
The report also suggests that districts hire a "full-time 'can do' individual who is not easily intimidated and who can run interference with all parties."
The three phases of Seattle's project involve adopting a 6th- through 8th-grade structure in all middle schools; piloting changes--such as interdisciplinary teams, coordinated services, and new advising approaches--in two schools; and gradually revamping all middle schools.
While Seattle has made "significant" progress, the report states, sustained reform will require overcoming fiscal and bureaucratic obstacles and enlisting more state support.
Copies of "The Steps to Restructuring: Changing Seattle's Middle Schools" are available for $5 each from nasbe, 1012 Cameron St., Alexandria, Va. 22314.