Middle school key to college, career pipeline
July 2, 2014 | By Michelle Maitre | No Comments
By the time he’d graduated middle school, Kalin Pont-Tate already had two apprenticeships on his résumé – one at Internet search engine Ask.com and a second at Oakland-based Rockbot, creator of a social media jukebox music app.
The 14-year-old Oakland student was mentored by company CEOs and learned how to build a website, but he also emerged from the experiences with something less tangible, but more important: He learned the value of school.
“Before (the apprenticeships), I didn’t realize that all the classes I had were that important or beneficial to anything I wanted to do,” Kalin said. “What does math have to do with anything? But I realized I had to put my best foot forward to do what I want to do.”
As California focuses on education reforms intended to ensure that students graduate from high school with the skills to succeed in college and careers, Kalin is a case study in closing what some educators say is a crucial gap in the pipeline – middle school matters, and it matters a lot.
“Career awareness has only been given lip service in middle schools, from my point of view,” said John White, a retired middle school principal who is now an education consultant and sits on the board of the California League of Middle Schools. “Kids (in middle school) are at their most advantageous mental state of acquiring languages, acquiring skills, doing things. We’re trying to make them all Einsteins so they can go to college, but we don’t offer enough career stuff … nothing that students can really go out and do.”
While much of the college and career efforts in California focus on high school students, sixth through eighth grade is a crucial time for students, research shows. Grades, attendance patterns and engagement at the middle school level are among the strongest predictors of Middle school key to college, career pipeline | EdSource: