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Middle School Journal (J1), v40 n5 p6-10 May 2009

In 2000, Gayle Andrews and this author published "Turning Points 2000: Educating Adolescents in the 21st Century," in which they summarized their analysis of the conditions of middle grades education at the turn of the century. Now, nearly a decade later, what is the state of middle grades education? On the one hand, federal mandates under No Child Left Behind have stimulated a significant and needed emphasis on improving instruction and outcomes for students who historically had been left behind. On balance, though, no sea change in the status of middle grades education has occurred. Data from the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show improvement in eighth grade scores in recent years for virtually all groups, but significant problems remain. The data also show continuing gaps in achievement between racial and ethnic groups in reading and math. These data suggest that the core of what students do every day in school--what they learn, how they learn, and how they demonstrate what they have learned--remains much the same as it was a decade ago and decades before that. While the heart of middle grades education may not have drastically changed in the past decades, the world has. The forces of globalization have and will continue to create a vastly different set of challenges and opportunities for today's middle grades students compared to previous generations. In 2008, Asia Society, a non-partisan, non-profit education organization, published a report entitled "Going Global: Preparing Our Students for An Interconnected World" (Asia Society, 2008). This author co-authored the report, with his colleagues Shari Albright, Vivien Stewart, and Heather Singmaster. Like "Turning Points 2000" nearly a decade ago, "Going Global" provides a guide for the education of adolescents that draws on research and best practices from exemplary schools. Much of what is discussed in this paper draws heavily on "Going Global," which responds precisely to the questions that frame this special edition of "Middle School Journal": Now and in the future, what do adolescents need to know and be able to do, and how can middle grades schools help students develop these capacities?

Descriptors: Middle Schools, Federal Legislation, Global Approach, Adolescents, Foreign Countries, Grade 8, Outcomes of Education, Achievement Gap, Educational Improvement, Evaluation

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Autor: Jackson, Anthony


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