Tucson, Ariz. – Rep. Raúl M.Grijalva last week reintroduced the Success in the Middle Act(H.R. 1547) to provide funds to help middle schools develop an academically rigorous curriculum and support struggling students.Although middle grade students represent 25 percent of the K-12 student population, those grades receive only 10 percent of school funds from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
“Middle grades are an important transition period in a student’s education, and a student who falls behind academically in those years may never recover,” Grijalva said. “Spotting the warning signs in these years and helping at-risk students get back on track will have a dramatic effect on the dropout crisis and make sure our high school graduates are college- and career-ready.”
Students who enter high school two or more years behind grade level in math and literacy have only a 50 percent chance of progressing on schedule to the 10th grade.To address this, the bill establishes a new $1 billion formula grant program for states, which in turn will provide school districts grants to improve low performing schools that contain middle grades.
Schools receiving grants must implement plans that describe how students complete middle grades and transition to an academically rigorous high school. The bill requires schools receiving grants to build early warning indicator systems – which would include academic and behavioral components – to help identify students at risk of dropping out or otherwise falling behind.
The bill also creates a program at the Department of Education to partner with the Center for Education at the National Academy of Sciences to share best teacher and administrator practices between middle schools nationwide.
“The middle grades are a critical time in the life of a child and have permanent implications for a student’s academic career,” Grijalva said. “This bill is about making sure we don’t leave students behind when they most need our help.”