Scientists have long known that the human brain develops more rapidly in the first five years of life. But recent advances in brain imaging have revealed that a second spurt occurs in early adolescence, a phase generally defined as spanning ages 11 to 14. A growing body of research indicates that the middle grades are the “make it or break it” years when many students begin to disengage from school, increasing the likelihood of dropping out of high school.
A Maryland student’s learning experiences in the middle grades is a selection of classes they go through in a day. If they experience inconsistent expectations across those classes, they and the school will struggle to achieve high outcomes.
A strong research base for effective instructional practices in the middle grades does exist. Providing research-based instruction that enhances learning in the middle grades is critical for Maryland students’ success in high school and beyond.