Middle School Program
Darnall’s educational program for seventh and eighth graders was developed based on CDE’s Taking Center Stage Act II: Middle Grades Success. We continue to refine and develop the program we provide to students based on the following twelve recommendations from Taking Center Stage Act II:
- Rigor - Hold high expectations and provide numerous avenues of support so that each middle grades learner succeeds.
- Instruction, Assessment, and Intervention - Engage middle grades students with challenging lessons and opportunities to think critically and demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.
- Time - Institute flexible schedules that provide the recommended and required instructional minutes for core academic classes and accelerated interventions.
- Relevance - Meet the needs of middle grades students by developing a rich set of courses and enrichment opportunities that infuse learning with technology, visual and performing arts, career/real-world connections, service- and project-based learning, and multicultural experiences.
- Relationships - Foster close relationships for accountability and engagement among students and with adults who share extended time through grade-level, subject-area, or interdisciplinary small learning communities.
- Transitions - Work with elementary and high schools to inform students and families about academic and behavioral expectations and to promote seamless, articulated transitions.
- Access - Provide all middle grades students equal access to a well-prepared, qualified, caring staff and a rich learning environment that includes grade-level standards-based instruction; academic interventions; learning resources; leadership and recognition opportunities; exploratory programs; sports, clubs, and enrichment activities; and, to the extent possible, placement in heterogeneous classes.
- Safety, Resilience, and Health Evidence - Create and sustain a fair, safe, and healthy school environment through a policy of positive discipline; civic and character education; safe and engaging facilities; access to adult mentors and counseling; and school and community health and social services.
- Leadership - Foster distributed leadership, collaborative decision making, and regular data analysis to realize and sustain a middle grades vision for focused learning and continual improvement.
- Professional Learning - Build and sustain professional learning communities through recruitment, training, coaching, and interdependent collaboration.
- Accountability - Organize all school and community stakeholders to hold high academic and behavioral expectations for all middle grades students.
- Partnerships - Engage families, businesses, local and state agencies and organizations, higher education, and community members as partners in supporting middle grades student achievement.
The following are some of the ways we have implemented the recommendations:
- Sixth Grade Transition Classes - Self-contained sixth-grade classes begin to prepare students for the transition to seventh and eighth. For example, students are grouped together for school activities and teachers modify instruction and classroom procedures to highlight the change students will experience in the next two grades and high school.
- Middle School Courses - Students attend core classes and a core subject support class four days per week and electives and academic support the other day. Electives are planned every year to offer students a variety of choices.
- Core Subjects - English Language Arts, Mathematics, History, Science, Physical Education and Health, Core Subject Support
- Electives - For example, in the past students have been offered Band, Choir, Guitar, Media Arts, STEAM, Newspaper, Yearbook, Basketball and Track and Field, Leadership and Computer Science
- Academic Support - After school Extended Learning Support, Summer school, Saturday support. For more, see Plan for English Learners, Plan for Below Grade Level and At-Risk Students, Plan for High-Achieving Students and Plan for Students With Disabilities.
- Behavior Support - PBIS - For example, some students are matched with other staff members to check-in and check-out regarding their day. Students also participate in Restorative Practice circles.
- Social-Emotional Learning Support
- Counseling - Darnall maintains a low counselor to student ratio. Counselors provide specific support to students in areas such as matriculation to high school, suicide prevention and individualized counseling.
- Associated Student Body
- Organized Sports Leagues such as soccer, volleyball, basketball, cheer and flag football
- Clubs such as chess, sustainability club, cheer, volleyball, Girl Scouts and PBIS Film Crew
- Middle School Only Events - select assemblies, achievement awards, dances and social events