ATLANTA — The SREB Middle Grades Commission, led by Governor Beverly Perdue of North Carolina, the current chair of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), is meeting in Raleigh to finalize a plan for improving student achievement in the middle grades — considered by many experts to be a critical weak point in public education.
Bringing together dozens of state-level education leaders, the SREB Middle Grades Commission is meeting April 26-27 at the Marriott Raleigh City Center. The meeting began at 1 p.m. on Tuesday and concludes at noon on Wednesday. The Commission includes the heads of state Departments of Education in many SREB states, state legislators, educators and others. Governor Perdue is speaking today at 8 a.m.
The transition from the middle grades to high school is a stumbling block for many students. Although SREB states have made good progress in early grades achievement in recent years, "when students reach the middle grades, they start to lose momentum — especially in reading and math — and often reach the ninth grade unprepared for high school," SREB President Dave Spence said. "Too many give up and drop out."
The state leaders first met last December to examine key challenges affecting the middle grades. This week, they will begin to finalize a report of specific recommendations to address the stall in middle grades achievement in many states. The report may cover issues such as the need to improve middle-graders’ reading and writing skills, to prepare more eighth-graders for Algebra I, for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to be stressed even in other academic and elective courses, for middle grades students to be more involved in planning for their future, and for students who are behind to get the help they need before they get stuck in the ninth grade and leave high school.
The Commission’s recommendations and report will offer guidance for educators and policy-makers — outlining strategies and best practices that can be replicated to raise student achievement across the region, SREB Senior Vice President Gene Bottoms said.
To learn more about the SREB region’s or your state’s progress in improving middle grades achievement, contact SREB Communications.
SREB, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, advises state education leaders on ways to improve education. SREB was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislatures to help leaders in education and government work cooperatively to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region. SREB has 16 member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Each is represented by its governor and four gubernatorial appointees.