The Forum seeks to engage key stakeholders in the critical issues of middle-grades reform. We realize that for changes to occur at the school and classroom level, policy makers must provide support to middle-grades schools. To accelerate these changes, the Forum develops and disseminates policy statements on issues that have a direct impact on middle-grades education.
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Small Schools and Small Learning Communities
Though not sufficient in itself, “smallness” creates a personalized learning environment that enhances teaching and learning at the middle level. The National Forum calls for federal, state, and local policymakers to provide resources and support to create small schools at the middle-grades level. In those cases where small schools are not feasible, district and school leaders should break down large middle-grades schools into smaller schools or small learning communities where teams of teachers share small groups of students (sometimes called clusters or houses). Read the Forum’s policy statement (June 2004) on small schools and small learning communities or download a version in pdf.
With public demand and recent federal legislation calling for high standards and improved student performance, virtually every state in the nation has created and administered statewide tests that measure student progress over time. The requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 will result in increased use of these tests. After careful deliberation, the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform has endorsed the following policy statement. (July 2002). Read the Forum’s policy statement (July 2002) on high-stakes testing or download a version in PDF.
Teacher Preparation, Licensure, and Recruitment
The National Forum believes that specialized professional preparation and licensure are critical if we are going to improve middle-grades education across this country and help all students meet the high standards expected of them. Both research and experience tell us that nothing is more important in improving student learning and achievement than teacher quality. If we want our eighth graders to meet both national and international standards of performance, then we must ensure that their middle-grades teachers have the essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions to teach youngsters at this unique developmental stage. Read the Forum’s policy statement (April 2002) on teacher preparation, licensure, and recruitment or download a version in PDF.
Schools across the country are struggling with how to group students for instruction. Ability grouping is a divisive issue among parents, teachers, and policymakers. Members of the National Forum have struggled with the many nuances of ability grouping and have come to consensus on a statement of policy. Read the Forum’s policy statement (February 2001) on ability grouping and student assignment patterns or download a version in PDF.