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.

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 and download the policy statement here.

High-Stakes Testing

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 and download the policy statement here.

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. boy readingBoth 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 and download the policy statement here.

Social Equity and Closing the Achievement Gap

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform (the Forum) urges federal, state and local policy makers and legislators to initiate, promote and support policies that enable all students in schools with middle-grades students (ages 10-14) to learn and achieve at high levels. Such policies will result in higher graduation rates and increased access to postsecondary education for every student, regardless of race/ethnicity, language, immigration status, poverty, and disability. In the end, this will lead to a more productive work force and more responsible members of society, thereby enhancing the quality of life, improving the economy, and increasing international competitiveness.

In this policy statement, we define ‘social equity’ as providing equitable resources and support to students who need them to meet the high standards set by the education system and to succeed in postsecondary learning, in work, and in life. In this definition, equitable does not mean equal, but rather “fair and just.”  Read and download the policy statement here.

Grade Configuration

The debate over which grade configuration is best, especially for young adolescents, has long been a controversial issue in American education and continues to be a topic of discussion in school board meetings across the United States. The National Forum believes that what is most important for the education of young adolescent learners is what takes place inside each middle-grades school, not grade configuration per se.  Read and download the policy statement here.