Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) today introduced the Success in the Middle Act to increase funding for middle grade education. The legislation would create a grant program to support middle schools’ efforts to identify and implement best practices for improving student outcomes and increasing high school graduation rates.
“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.”
“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 Representative 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.”
Students who fall behind academically in middle school have a harder time recovering in high school. According to the ACT, a nonprofit standardized testing organization, the level of academic achievement that students attain by eighth 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 affects 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 Representative Grijalva and Senator 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.