Why Middle School?

participants from the 2019 Middle Grades Network

While all students can face challenges, those who live in poverty must navigate significant obstacles to make it to graduation. Last year in Asheville and Buncombe County:

  • More than 15,500 students qualified for free and reduced lunch. That’s about 55% of the students in each school. 
  • 20% of low income students didn’t graduate from high school.

The long-term effects of not having a diploma can be profound. As adults, students who don’t graduate are: 

  • 3 times more likely to live in poverty,
  • 6 times more likely to be arrested, 
  • and are more likely to have a shorter lifespan - 9 years on average 

There are warning signs and research shows that middle school is key:

Research tells us that if a student hits one or more of the following indicators during their middle school years, without successful intervention their likelihood of graduation can drop to 25 percent:

  • Attendance - missing 18 days (10 percent)
  • Behavior - two or more behavioral referrals
  • Course performance - failing a core subject such as English or math

The key to changing this outcome is intervention and this is where the Community School Strategy comes in. By creating strong public and private partnerships and using our local middle schools as hubs of support for students, their families and community we can work together to change the odds for local students.

Learn about the science behind how we can spot and respond to these warning signs

Middle School Moment / PBS The work of Robert Balfanz from Johns Hopkins University is at the center of our understanding of how Attendance, Behavior and Core Subject performance can provide important clues that can help us better support student success.