By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The move from middle to high school has long been a concern. But a Harvard study of Florida schools, reported in December in Education Week, found students moving from 5th to 6th grade middle school showing a sharp drop in math and language arts, “plaguing (students) as far as 10th grade…even risking ability to graduate.”

Tracking 450,000 public school students, grades 3-10, that drop was most pronounced in urban schools and was much more traumatic with regard to achievement than the move from middle to high school.

Similar research at Columbia University showed that achievement gaps continue through 8th grade.
The K-8 plan, in smaller schools where teachers get to know students, seems to make the transition easier. Many districts have adopted it, although the high school dropout rate remains high in large cities.

Study needs to be done comparing differences between those who attended middle school and those in K-8 schools with regard to achievement, staying in school and graduating.