What are Middle Preps and how do they affect my child?

Middle PrepsWhat is a Middle Prep? A Middle Prep is a Metro middle school. You might have seen a Middle Preps banner in your school lobby or heard the name used in a callout. But it's not just a name change, it's a new course of action. The name change simply represents the big instructional changes happening inside our middle schools.

What are the basics of the Middle Preps idea?

Here you go:

Vision Metro Nashville middle school students perform at the highest level of social, emotional development and academic achievement while preparing for college.

Mission Metro Nashville middle school students learn in a personalized environment where they are valued, respected, and challenged. Students will experience rigorous academics, engaging activities, and creative arts in a safe environment with caring and nurturing adults.

We value:

  • All students and their individuality
  • Engaging, creative, and challenging experiences that foster purposeful learning for each student
  • Multiple learning and differentiated teaching techniques used to personalize learning
  • Courageous and collaborative leaders that inspire all to excel
  • Systems that enhance learning and foster meaningful relationships
  • An inviting, safe, and supportive school community

Characteristics of an 8th grade graduate to:

  • Be academically, socially, and emotionally ready for high school
  • Score at least a 16 on EXPLORE (a precursor to the ACT)
  • Be technology proficient
  • Complete service learning
  • Participate in at least one extra-curricular activity

Students should feel like:

  • My school is my second home where my teachers challenge me with fun, interesting experiences that make me think. It is a special place where people listen to me, care about me, and help me grow up. I become my own person and find out who I really am.

How will Middle Preps work?

Our action plan for all middle schools covers everything you read above.

  • 100% of all students will have the opportunity to participate in extra activities
    • Music, arts, athletics, intramurals, after school programs, etc. These activities engage students in school, encourage them to attend, and give them passion and energy that carries over into the classroom.
  • Common planning and teaming for teachers
    • Teachers will plan lessons together in groups, both by grade level and by subject matter. This means they will all have the same focus and all lessons will be integrated within one another.

      When a 7th grader moves between math and science class, her teachers have already planned lessons together for maximum impact in both classes. When a 6th grader moves into the 7th grade, his new teachers will have planned all year long with his old teachers, meaning he is more prepared to move ahead in all classes.

  • Alignment with K-12 with a focus on transitions from 4th to 5th and 8th to 9th grades
    • Everything we do in middle schools is aligned with what we’re doing in other grades, as well as important special focus areas like exceptional education, English learners, technology, advanced academics, and more. We’re also focusing on successful transitions from elementary to middle school and from middle school to high school.
  • High School 101
    • This special course is now in development and will be offered to 8th graders in the spring as an online class. It teaches the basics of high school, what changes they’ll see, and what expectations they will meet. It will also introduce online learning to students, as every high school students will soon be expected to take at least one class online.
  • Advanced Academics
  • Technology
    • To promote instructional technology, we will begin implementation for individual technology devices for all students.
  • Middle Preps Ambassadors
    • Like their Academies of Nashville counterparts in the high schools, 185 middle school students have been trained as ambassadors for their schools. They are eloquent, educated, and informed. They will represent their schools at public events and participate in outreach to parents and community groups.

Why call it a ‘Middle Prep’? 

Middle school is the ultimate prep school: in the immediate future, it prepares students for high school. But habits formed now will cement and carry that student through college, career, and life. It’s preparing them for much more than just the transition to 9th grade.

Middle school isn’t just a stepping-stone to high school. It is one of the most important time periods in a student’s life.  

What does this mean for my child in middle school or soon-to-be in middle school?

We’re changing our approach to educating middle schoolers. They are at a key point of their lives. Everything around them and about them is changing. They need a specific approach to education that centers on the individual. In Metro Middle Preps, their individual needs will be catered to in every day lessons and the school culture overall.

It’s not just about academics. The unique social and emotional needs of this age group are also a huge focus.

The result will be higher achievement now and in the future. As these students are more prepared for what comes next, their academic successes will build, ensuring they can meet any challenge in college, career, and life.

How do you know it will work?

We’ve done this once before. We changed our zoned high schools from top to bottom, resulting in the Academies of Nashville. We restructured them and took a brand new approach to teaching even the core subjects. Since this started in 2007, our zoned high schools have seen graduation rates jump 20.9 percentage points.

While we’re not putting career academies in middle school, the Middle Preps initiative will follow a similar path. We expect similar academic gains because Middle Preps have a similar focus on academics, social and emotional learning, and the needs of individual students. They will better prepare students for the college career, and life.