Wednesday, July 16

Mired in middle school

After all the middle-school admissions brouhaha, disturbing reporting on students who can't get out of the middle grades was released today by the Out of School Youth Coalition, a network of social service and advocacy groups. Some of these 'overage' middle-schoolers are 16 or 17 years old -- in the seventh or eighth grade.

The DOE, in its wisdom, does not make data publicly available to discern citywide how many older teens are still stuck in middle school. In one survey of nine Bronx middle schools, more than a quarter of the 6,000 students were older than they should be for their grade -- due to repeated retentions, disruptions in foster care, and complications in safety transfers, among other factors.

Since 2005, the DOE has developed alternative programs for older, underachieving high school students via its Office of Multiple Pathways to Graduation. But comparable program options for younger students who've fallen behind are sorely lacking. It's hard to imagine the daily difficulty and frustration of being 17 in a sea of 13-year-olds; could we make it any harder for these struggling kids?

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