Early adolescence, age 10 to 14, is a crucial time for our students.
During these years, early adolescents are undergoing personal transformations –physical, intellectual, emotional, social and psychological.
The transition from childhood to adolescence and from the elementary grades to the high school must be a positive period of intellectual and personal development.
This can be a hopeful or stressful time in a young person’s life. Stressors may be exacerbated in cases where either the home or the community (including the school) in which the young person lives and learns offers limited opportunities for positive role models, employment, and a satisfying lifestyle.
The educational community has a shared responsibility not only for their students' intellectual and educational development, but also for their students' personal, social, emotional, and physical development.
The entire school community must share responsibility for the success of all students, assuring high-quality instruction, course content, and support and other services in the middle-level grades, and promoting high expectations for all students.
The goals of academic achievement and personal development for each student are not in conflict or in competition. Rather, they are compatible, complementary, and mutually supportive.
The educational program and school culture for early adolescents should be different than that of a high school or an elementary school. It should be a deliberate transition between the two.
The Cortland Enlarged City School District is beginning a transition to a middle-level philosophy and program for its early adolescents.
The Board of Education has commissioned a facilities study to explore facility configurations in the district that might allow a 6-8 middle-level program in the district. The study will employ a representative committee during the process (report tentatively due to Board of Education in December).
In the meantime, we will take steps to implement a middle-level approach in grades seven and eight, separate from the high school.
The Junior High faculty and larger educational community will review the implementation of the Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs in order to identify necessary programmatic, structural, and cultural adjustments.
The Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs identify the characteristics of a good middle-level program:
A philosophy and mission that reflect the intellectual and developmental needs and characteristics of young adolescents.
An educational program that is comprehensive, challenging, purposeful, integrated, relevant, and standards-based.
An organization and structure that support both academic excellence and personal development.
Classroom instruction appropriate to the needs and characteristics of young adolescents provided by skilled and knowledgeable teachers.
Strong educational leadership and a building administration that encourage, facilitate, and sustain involvement, participation, and partnerships.
A network of academic and personal support available for all students.
Professional learning for all staff that is ongoing, planned, purposeful, and collaboratively developed.