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 report that students leave eighth grade with a purpose and the skills they need to thrive.

  1. Create a culture of high expectations in which each student has equitable access to resources and opportunities to complete rigorous course work.
  2. Teach each student through engaging assignments that align with grade-level standards.
  3. Integrate literacy strategies in all subject areas.
  4. Use a balanced approach to teaching math.
  5. Provide each student with inquiry-based science instruction and rich STEM learning experiences.
  6. Reframe how students understand and interpret the world through an intellectually demanding social studies curriculum.
  7. Engage each student in career exploration experiences.
  8. Provide systems of support and enrichment that help each student prepare for high school success.
  9. Offer comprehensive guidance for each student.
  10. Create a culture of continuous improvement in which instructional leaders help good teachers become great teachers.

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.


Student and Teacher Surveys

For middle grades schools, high schools and career centers

SREB’s new and improved online surveys offer a unique opportunity to collect authentic, anonymous data from students and teachers about their school and classroom experiences. Participating sites receive user-friendly, actionable feedback and valuable insights they can use create a roadmap for school improvement.