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Rep. Grijalva and Senator Whitehouse Introduce ‘Success in the Middle Act' to Increase Funding for Middle Grade Education

WASHINGTON— Today, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced the Success in the Middle Act. The legislation will significantly invest in middle level education across the country by creating a grant program that will allow middle schools to identify and implement best practices to improve student outcomes and increase high school graduation rates.

“Despite success in the middle school years being one of the most pivotal indicators of future success and achievement, middle grade education remains grossly underfunded in school districts across the country,” said Rep. Grijalva. “This legislation remedies historic underfunding, invests in local solutions to improve educational outcomes, and will help equip teachers with the tools they need to prepare students for high school and beyond.”

“Teachers know that getting kids on a strong path in middle school can make all the difference for success in high school and beyond,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Our bill would give schools the resources to better identify and support at-risk students during those important years.”

Students who fall behind academically in middle school have a harder time recovering in high school. According to the ACT, the level of academic achievement that students attain by 8th grade is directly correlated with both college and career readiness. The effects are even more pronounced in high-poverty areas, where middle school achievement strongly impacts high school graduation rates, college readiness, and future achievement levels.

The Success in the Middle Act is endorsed by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Association for Middle Level Education, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform.

“The research bears out what school leaders and other educators witness regularly: The eighth-grade year is the bellwether for a student’s performance for the remainder of their years in school. More than appropriate, it is essential for policy makers to focus efforts on building student success during the middle years. Success in the Middle directs resources to those essential supports for students who are at a critical stage of development. We thank Rep. Grijalva and Sen. Whitehouse for being champions for middle level students, and we are confident the benefits of this bill will follow students well beyond their young adolescent years,” said National Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti

AMLE Chief Executive Officer William Waidelich said, "The middle school years are the most consequential and under-addressed time period in all of education. The Success in the Middle Act will provide resources for schools serving middle grade students during this critical stage of growth and development."

“The middle grades are an absolutely critical time for ensuring that every child develops the knowledge and skills needed for future success in high school and beyond,” said Deb Delisle, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education. “Unfortunately, these grades are often overlooked in federal policy and funding decisions. The Success in the Middle Act will invest in proven practices to turn around low-performing middle schools and increase funding to improve graduation rates for all students, especially those who are historically underserved. I commend Senator Whitehouse and Representative Grijalva for their hard work and support for middle school students and educators.”

“The National Forum is excited to see this renewed federal commitment to focus and transform educational practices and strategies for teachers and school leaders of students in grades five to eight,” stated Ericka Uskali, Executive Director of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. “By ensuring students are equipped with age-appropriate supports and by providing evidence-based professional development for educators on the ground, the Success in the Middle Act will transform outcomes for middle grade students, living up to its name.”

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