Middle School Features
Middle Level Reorganization Task Force
Beginning with the 1998-99 school year, Kenosha Unified School District schools was organized into a 5-3-4 format (Elementary Schools=Grades Kindergarten through 5; Middle Schools=Grades 6, 7 and 8; and Senior High Schools=Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12). What is a middle school? Some features include:
- The "school community" is arranged into "houses"
One of the characteristics of a middle school is that a sense of community is created among students, according to Heidi-Hayes Jacobs, Ed. D., a noted authority on middle level education. Students are organized into "houses" with teams of teachers assigned to head each house. These teachers act as student advocates, making themselves available to students on a regular basis to discuss school-related issues.
- Ways of teaching vary based on individual student needs
In the middle school setting, learning occurs in the context of a variety of instructional strategies that are appropriate for adolescents. Often students will work in pairs, small groups or large groups, and also individually with teacher guidance. The teacher or teachers tailor instruction to the needs or learning styles of individual students, diagnosing how an individual student or students would learn a subject best.
- Block scheduling gets rid of the traditional class period
Block scheduling is commonly used at the middle school level. The traditional junior high featured a five-day school week averaging 7 to 9 periods per day. The typical period lasted about 40 minutes, and typical daily activities and lessons fit into that 40 minute period. At the middle school, block scheduling is often used and is arranged by a 'house' team. This allows for instruction time frames to vary based on a student's ability and rate of learning. A common planning time for teachers involved in the team or house is scheduled on a regular basis.
- Testing is done in various ways
How students are tested on what they have learned varies in the true middle school setting. This testing or assessment could be based on an oral presentation by a student or group of students designed to showcase what they have learned. It could be a portfolio of information compiled by a student over the course of the semester or year detailing what he or she has learned. In the middle school, assessment reflects a demonstration of learning directly linked to the curriculum. Multiple choice tests are used, but the focus is on diagnosing an individual student's strengths and weaknesses so further instruction can be tailored to his or her needs.
- More direct commmunication between students and teachers
Assessment also involves personal feedback from the teacher to the student. This translates to teachers communicating more directly with students, and more often.
- The school is governed by parents, teachers, and the community and principals as partners
Under the successful middle school system, management is site-based with the school being governed by a team of people including parents, teachers, members of the community and students with the principal being the person who guides and facilitates this team with support from the district office.