Middle Grades Action Kit
and Principals *new
Our Middle Grades Action Kit for Superintendents and Principals is designed to help school leaders identify and implement actionable practices that set high-performing schools apart.Learn more
Middle Grades Studies
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan touts EdSource's Gaining Ground in the Middle Grades study.Learn more
Some California students do well academically in the middle and high school grades, and leave public secondary education well-prepared and positioned for higher education. For example, about one-in-five 11th graders in 2009 entered their junior years having already completed Algebra II. A similar proportion of public high school graduates in the state enrolls immediately in either the University of California or the California State University systems.
But California's public higher education institutions are concerned about the readiness of some incoming students. Remediation rates among CSU first-time freshmen in mathematics, though lower than 10 years ago, have remained at about 37% since fall 2003. During the same time, remediation rates in English have remained between 45% and 48%. The problem is widely perceived to be more extensive at the California Community Colleges, but is more difficult to document on a statewide basis.
Policymakers and educators also worry that too many students become disengaged during secondary education, as illustrated by high dropout rates. Experts differ on how this problem should be measured. But 2007-08 estimates by the California Department of Education (CDE) suggest that about one-in-five high school students drops out between grades 9 and 12. The statistics are even starker for some student groups. The CDE estimates that one-in-four Latino and one-in-three African American students drops out during high school.
One response to these concerns has been efforts to improve the rigor and relevance of the high school experience.
The middle grades provide another opportunity to ensure more students are on track for secondary success. State and national organizations increasingly point to the middle grades as a crucial time for engaging students in school and in an academically rigorous curriculum that prepares them for high school. In addition, recent research on the early identification of students at risk for dropping out of school shows that many of these students might be identified and provided additional assistance during the middle grades.