This We Believe
Call to Action
The importance of middle level education can never be overestimated. The future of individuals and, indeed, that of society is largely determined by the nature of the educational experiences of young adolescents during these formative years. Creating and maintaining schools that fulfill the broad responsibilities of middle level education require extensive support. Such support from the profession as well as the general population must evolve from a full understanding of young adolescents and the types of programs and practices known to be effective for them. In This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents, we have provided the ideas and ideals necessary to establish such programs, wherever they may be housed.
AMLE's advocacy is representative of long-standing and research-supported beliefs about effective education that are applicable for all grades. Its central tenets are found in current reform initiatives for high schools and elementary schools. These and other initiatives draw from the same progressive foundations on which middle level education is based.
All stakeholders must recognize that middle level education serves a distinct developmental period, one in which youth undergo major changes in every aspect of their being. Because young adolescents move through the many maturation and development stages as individuals at such widely varying times and rates, and because the values, attitudes, interests, and habits of mind they formulate have lifelong implications, providing an appropriate education program for this age group is an especially challenging, yet critically important task. As the limitations of high-stakes-testing only reform become apparent, there is a readiness for instituting more philosophically sound and research-supported improvements—in short, the middle school concept as delineated in this document.
Our call to action requires a recommitment to the philosophy of middle level education by some and a newfound commitment by others. The vision described in This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents advocates for what research shows is right for young adolescents, not what might be current practice, expedient, or readily accomplished. Thoroughly preparing all young adolescents to succeed in a demanding and evolving global culture makes the transformation and improvement of middle level education an imperative. We ask you to join in this vital effort by
Becoming personally familiar with the contents of this position statement, studying it sufficiently so that you have a clear understanding of its advocacy and can articulate it to others.
Engaging one or two colleagues in discussion about this position paper, sharing views, clarifying thinking, and considering the implications of putting it more fully into practice.
Exploring with faculty and administrators specific ways to use This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents as an integral part of your school's collaborative professional development opportunities.
Assessing the degree to which your school currently implements the 16 characteristics of a developmentally responsive school.
Developing a focused school improvement plan aimed at full implementation of the recommended characteristics.
Engaging pertinent stakeholders—boards of education, district office personnel, and parents—in learning experiences that will increase their knowledge and understanding of the academic and developmental needs of middle grades students.
If all of us take these critical steps, we will achieve developmentally responsive, challenging, exploratory, and equitable middle grades schools in which all students can excel.