Columbia's middle school curriculum to be restructured

Tuesday, December 2, 2008 | 8:46 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Intermediate schools will not only house new grades in the coming years, but also a revamped curriculum and middle school experience, according to the Columbia Public Schools Intermediate Steering Committee.

The committee held a work session Tuesday to further develop a plan for transitioning from the current middle and junior high schools to an intermediate school, which will house grades six through eight. High schools will serve grades nine through 12.

The regrouping of grades is part of the district's effort to balance enrollment numbers and the amount of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches, and it stems from the opening of a new public high school in August 2010. 

The committee also reviewed research about the effectiveness of advisory programs, support structures and adolescent development and developed guiding questions for when it visits three middle schools in January. Committee members will tour Lewis and Clark Middle School in Jefferson City on Jan. 22 and Nipher and North middle schools in Kirkwood on Jan. 26.

These three middle schools' recent curriculum restructuring mirrors much of what the committee hopes to do in Columbia and came highly recommended by education professor Jerry Valentine, director of MU's Middle Level Leadership Center, which looks at middle school and junior high education. Committee members will shadow students and teachers at the middle schools to see the effects of recent curriculum and school restructuring.

Kim Presco, Oakland Junior High School principal and committee co-chair, said the committee hopes to apply the research findings and what it sees during the middle school visits to the new intermediate schools.

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