Magnify the Middle (MTM) is the newest initiative in the Riverside County Education Collaborative (RCEC) and is focused on increasing awareness on middle school college and career indicators, improvement in academic utcomes/grades and developing a High School Readiness Indicator, or HSRI. Research from Chicago Public Schools (2014) found that middle school grades–particularly in 8th grade–is the main predictor of college-going and college success rates. It is imperative that we prepare our middle school students to enter high school academically prepared so they have access to college preparatory courses including UC/CSU A-G, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and Dual Enrollment courses. As RCEC leaders analyzed college enrollment data and back tracked these students to their middle school grades, the trends were apparent that students who were passing their core content courses with a C or better were more likely to enroll and persist at a post- secondary institution.
In 2018, RCEC HUB leaders decided to add a new focus and expand attention to the preparation of students before they enter high school. Research has shown that most students fall off track to be college and career ready in 9th grade (California State Audit Report, 2018). Magnify the Middle spawned from the need to create an awareness and internal sense of urgency in the middle school years with regard to predictors of college and career readiness. RCEC leaders realized the necessity to examine indicators in middle school such as grade point average (GPA), attendance rates and grades, which can inform how students will fare in high school. As a result, 22 middle schools, which comprise the RCEC districts, meet on a monthly basis to establish baseline data metrics (including 8th grade passing rates, failure rates, and grade distribution) and develop and share best practices to increase student success.
Middle School Transcript Analysis: Modeled after the UC/CSU a-g Transcript Analysis in high school, the middle school version of the transcript analysis is designed for administrators, school counselors and other site leaders to diagnose their current school in regards to identifying a high school readiness indicator. By analyzing cohort transcripts, participants are able to see the percent of middle school students who are “high school ready” in the core subjects (Math, ELA, Science, Social Science) and can disaggregate this by subject, gender, ethnicity and LCAP student group. School sites are encouraged to engage in critical thinking and self-reflection about why and how their current system produces its results. Next, employing an Improvement Science-based approach, they are challenged to develop problem statements to begin the process of addressing unique needs. This work consists of a full-day training and subsequent follow up, as needed.