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The Middle School - and Beyond.

All leaders in the middle school movement, the authors present an excellent status report describing the best practice in middle schools across the nation. They note that although the middle school movement may be new in some school districts, the idea has been around since the early '60s and used for a variety of purposes unrelated to its original goal: as a tool for desegregation, to cope with expanding enrollments and to meet state funding requirements. The authors feel, however, that the best rationale is still to benefit students at a crucial stage in their development as they prepare for a future that has never been faster changing.

The purpose of this monograph is to "seek the further implementation of the middle school concept in all middle level schools" and to "advocate for all schools, K-12, implementing appropriate practices emerging from nearly three decades of being shaped and strengthened in the heat of the contemporary American educational blast furnace."

To accomplish this purpose, the authors focus on the fundamental and central concerns in middle school education. These concerns are addressed in five chapters: Teachers and Students: Relationship and Results; Middle School Organization: Values Underlying Practices; Middle School Organization: Practices Reflecting Values; Letting Go: Visions of the Middle School Curriculum; Middle School Leadership.

The final chapter, "Beyond the Middle School," describes the middle school's potential contribution to the improvement of education at every level. The chapter begins with a vignette describing a community service learning experience at a high school in Colorado that illustrates how middle school philosophy and practice are emerging in some innovative elementary and high schools. The chapter describes other pioneering schools across the nation, such as an elementary school in Florida where shared decision-making is taking place.

The chapter also focuses on the second meaning of "beyond" in the title. There is growing evidence that the leaders of the movement are correct in insisting that they "do, indeed, know a more effective way to go about educating young adolescents for the new century...and beyond."

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) has been actively involved in promoting quality education for pre- and early adolescents since the beginning of the middle school movement. This excellent publication is another commendable contribution that should be read by those committed to improving the education of this age group.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Association for Childhood Education International
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Gilstrap, Robert L.
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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