A student’s middle grades experience is critical to his or her life’s chances. It is during the middle grades that students either launch toward achievement and attainment, or slide off track and placed on a path of frustration, failure, and ultimately, early exit from the only secure path to adult success. Robert Balfanz
Students have always needed extra support when starting their first year of middle or high school. After two consecutive school years of interrupted in-person schooling during the global pandemic – and acknowledging that many young people face profound inequities in their educational experiences – those supports are needed more than ever. In response, educators are searching for ways to create proactive processes and to increase the intentionality of school- and district-level bridge programs. When planned collaboratively and taking into account diverse student needs, these processes serve to connect educators across schools and to boost students’ sense of belonging, well–being, and academic success for the long term.
- Review incoming student performance outcomes for patterns of disproportionate achievement between student groups and note the opportunity gaps that initiate and sustain these patterns.
- Revisit transition interventions and curriculum with an equity lens, focusing on culturally affirming representation. Ensure all students see themselves in and can make cultural connections to content.
- Offer transition opportunities that help students process and learn to discuss structural racism and social justice issues with their peers and to take action to create a more equitable society beyond the school’s walls.