A transformation in middle schools is coming to Hamilton County Schools next year with the introduction of Future Ready Preps. The new focus in middle grades will seek to personalize learning to meet every child where they are academically, expose them to a variety of potential careers, and support their social and emotional learning. Academic performance in district middle grades will be the focus, and teachers will spearhead the instructional and cultural shifts required to achieve the new vision for the middle school experience, said officials.
In the report, The Forgotten Middle from the ACT, only two in 10 eighth-graders are on target to be ready for college-level work by the time they graduate from high school. The report found that improving the academic discipline of middle school students can be a significant factor in a student’s readiness for a college and career. The report also found that the level of academic achievement that students attain by eight-grade has a larger impact on their college and career readiness by the time they graduate from high school than anything that happens academically in high school.
“It is vital that graduates of Hamilton County Schools are post-secondary ready and prepared to succeed in college or a career,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “The re-imagining of the middle school experience will help students build upon the strong foundations laid in elementary and another step to ensure the success of Hamilton County Schools graduates.”
To help prepare children for success in high school, Future Ready Preps in Hamilton County Schools will help students SPRINT to personalized success. The acronym SPRINT stands for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education, Professional learning, Rich learning experiences, Individualized learning, a Nurturing environment for students, and access to Technology.
“The vision of Future Ready Preps is to bring about a purposeful transformation of the middle school experience to prepare and inspire students to excel in high school and beyond,” said Dr. Johnson. “We will personalize student learning by providing a rich academic experience and the flexibility for students to identify the interests they are passionate about.”
Hamilton County Schools will begin the transformation by finalizing a selection of digital curriculum and instructional materials, engaging middle school administrators and teachers to help further define changes in the transformation, and planning professional learning for educators to ensure the success of the redesign. The new district budget will purchase the electronic devices needed to support a 1:1 technology program, where each middle school student will have their own laptop or tablet by the fall. Middle school career exploration courses will give students a starting point in defining their interests and determining possible career paths. The final piece of the transformation includes training of school counselors in the selected social and emotional learning framework to help educate and prepare the whole child for success.
Dr. Johnson said, “The middle school transformation will be the next step in Hamilton County Schools becoming the fastest improving school district in Tennessee.”