|According to research by educational experts, the middle school concept offers many academic and social advantages.
The district's Future Facilities Committee recommended this concept to be part of the $299.88 million bond package because of available research that states there is a closer match between the intellectual, emotional and social development of fifth and sixth grade students. The middle school concept is designed to place fifth and sixth grade students into a single campus designed to make the transition easier to intermediate school.
Pasadena ISD Deputy Superintendent Vicki Thomas said many of the academic advantages of the middle school concept include a more aligned curriculum.
"The middle school concept focuses on fifth and sixth grade and the curriculum can be strategically aligned for those grades," said Thomas.
Thomas added that fifth and sixth graders require different individual learning needs than students in other grade levels.
"Teachers will work in teams with a certain number of students which will enable them to plan together to meet interdisciplinary and other academic and social needs for individual students," Thomas said. "They will have the opportunity to more closely guide the students."
Students benefit from their teachers working together and advising students as a team as compared to a traditional elementary classroom. Curriculum can be tailored for fifth grade students who many parents feel are too old for elementary school and sixth grade students who many parents feel are too young for intermediate school.
"The age groups are so closely aligned that it provides a greater opportunity to be able to teach socialization skills and peer mediation," said Thomas.
Thomas says the middle school will expand the emphasis on fine arts as well. The middle schools will have a full band, choir and orchestra, which will allow the middle school to build up those areas, making the intermediate and high schools stronger.
Full-time physical education teachers will be provided at each middle school and will focus in on intramurals.
"Intramurals will help students build fundamental skills for athletics," Thomas said. "Students will have more knowledge and more opportunities physically to participate in sports at the intermediate and high school levels."
Thomas says the middle schools will provide a full art program for students. They will also have science laboratories and expanded science programs.
Thomas says special programs such as ESL will be more effective because only the fifth and sixth grades will be the primary focus. Students will also have an advisory teacher who can provide assistance on a personal level.
"The advisory teachers will be there to support the students to make sure they are making good decisions," said Thomas. "I believe this concept provides many opportunities for students in this age group and will reveal positive results."