Middle Grades


Middle Grades

The middle grades are a critical time in students’ social, emotional and cognitive development. SREB’s school improvement process for the middle grades is grounded in research showing that preteens and young teens flourish when their studies are challenging, meaningful and personally relevant.


Making Middle Grades Work
Accelerate readiness for high school, college and careers

SREB’s Making Schools Work school improvement design for the middle grades — Making Middle Grades Work — employs a distributed leadership approach to engage the whole school community in getting students ready for high school.

Making Middle Grades Work brings teachers, counselors and leaders together to offer challenging curricula, quality instruction, career exploration and counseling, nurturing environments and personalized supports that prime students for lifelong success.

Schools that implement the process with fidelity help students enter ninth grade with the literacy and math skills they need to complete college-preparatory academic and career pathway curricula and graduate on time.

What Makes It Work – 10 Key Practices

Schools that adopt our key practices for the middle grades report that students leave eighth grade with a purpose and the skills they need to thrive.

Customizable Support

As with all of our Making Schools Work improvement designs, Making Middle Grades Work can be offered in any setting or grade configuration with support tailored to the needs of the school. All participating schools gain access to our student and teacher surveys for the middle grades, which offer powerful data for improvement planning.

Districts and schools may choose to receive direct services from SREB’s leadership and instructional coaches. We can also prepare state or district leaders to provide support to schools.

We encourage participating middle grades schools to share their successes and challenges and learn alongside more than 3,000 K-12 leaders and teachers at our annual Making Schools Work Conference.

We recommend implementing Making Middle Grades Work in tandem with SREB’s project-based STEM curriculum for the middle grades and our literacy and math readiness courses for struggling eighth-graders.


Middle Grades Key Practices

Making Schools Work engages the entire middle grades school community — teachers, leaders and staff working together in a distributed leadership structure — in addressing SREB’s five focus areas (leadership for continuous improvement, aligned curriculum, engaging instruction, career exploration and systems of support) and taking ownership of their improvement efforts. 

By combining this process with the 10 Key Practices below, middle grades schools build their capacity to continuously address problems and meet clear targets for student success. 

Download the Key Practices: Download the PDF

Download an 11×17 poster of our process and practices: Download the PDF

Download a 24×26 poster of the practices: Download the PDF

Download a grid of SREB’s Key Practices and Focus Areas across K-12: Download the PDF