Martha Abele MacIver & Douglas J MacIver. 21st Century Education: A Reference Handbook. Editor: Thomas L Good. Sage Publication. 2008.
National policy makers are increasingly recognizing the need for more intensive focus on improving middle grades education, especially as recent research has shown how low attendance, course failure, or misbehavior in sixth grade are strong predictors of an eventual high school dropout outcome (Balfanz, Herzog, & Mac Iver, 2007). The problem of low-performing middle schools has led policy makers to focus increasingly on structural reforms or governance reforms. Many appear to have lost faith in the ability of middle school reform movement to accomplish the kind of changes necessary to assure that students leave the middle grades ready for high school. The middle school concept has often been reduced to a set of key practices (e.g., interdisciplinary team teaching, flexible scheduling, and advisory programs) that are not always fully implemented together (Juvonen, Le, Kaganoff, Augustine, & Constant, 2004). While foundation-supported middle school reform efforts have resulted in transformation in the climates and structures of middle schools, there has not been sufficient progress in heeding the call sounded a decade ago by Lipsitz, Mizell, Jackson, and Austin (1997) for schools to improve middle school curriculum and instruction.