Middle School Review

Project Summary

  • As a district, we receive regular questions about how to best provide middle school grade programming in K-8 schools; how to ensure that every student is prepared for high school, and how to appropriately distribute resources equitably across our system. To start addressing these questions, we will engage in a wide-ranging middle school study throughout the 2022-23 school year.

    The purpose of the study is three-fold:

    1. Highlight and elevate effective components of our current middle school model.

    2. Better understand areas of need and potential improvement at the middle school level.

    3. Clearly define the district’s approach to middle school schedules going forward and the types of experiences students and families can expect from grades 6-8.

    In order to support this work, we will partner with New Solutions K-12 (NSK12). NSK12 is a Boston-based education consultancy with expertise in school schedules and school operations. They will engage a wide range of stakeholders through interviews, focus groups, and surveys and conduct a robust review of the district’s middle school course offerings, staffing, and programming to identify recommendations related to how the district might strengthen its approach to middle schools.


    Middle School Review project timeline

Current Progress:

  • We are Currently in DISCOVERY, Phase 2: Engagement

    Complete List of Middle School Review Focus Groups

    Please note that this list is a living document. It will be updated as meeting times are finalized and additional meetings may be scheduled as appropriate.

    See "Engagement Opportuntites" below for more details about the focus groups.


Project Updates

  • Focus Groups Complete - Next Steps

    Posted by Gabriel McCormick on 2/13/2023 9:00:00 AM

    With all the focus groups completed, the New Solutions K-12 (NSK12) team is now completing their analysis, recommendations, and final report.


    The following steps are a presentation of the executive summary to PSB leadership, a presentation of the complete report to PSB leadership, and a summary presentation to the school committee. These last presentations will finish our Discovery Stage.

    • Executive Summary Presentation to district leadership Wednesday, February 15
    • Full Report Presentation to district leadership Wednesday, March 8
    • Presentation to School Committee Thursday, March 16


    The results of this review will be considered throughout our strategic planning process during Spring 2023. The strategic plan will then potentially inform how we approach the Design Stage of the Middle School Review. As the strategic planning process is confirmed, additional information and opportunities for staff and community participation will be forthcoming.

    Comments (-1)
  • Student Surveys

    Posted by Gabriel McCormick on 12/12/2022 3:00:00 PM

    The next step in our Middle School Review is a pair of student surveys: one for middle school students and one for high school students.

    Both surveys are quite similar and ask students to reflect on their middle school experience including what is working well, what is challenging, and what might be improved.

    You can preview the survey questions below:



    These surveys are optional and all results will remain confidential. Our partners at New Solutions will be processing the results and reporting on trends and patterns. Individual student responses will not be identifiable.

    We will be posting links to these surveys as canvas messages for students so that they can take the survey at their own convenience without disrupting class time.

    Comments (-1)
  • Project Overview

    Posted by Gabriel McCormick on 10/20/2022

    The overall middle school review will consist of three Stages to take us from initial fact finding and data collection to implementing possible changes and revisions. All three Stages will include multiple opportunities for stakeholder engagement.


    This plan is subject to change as we learn from each Stage and as circumstances dictate.


    STAGE 0: PREPARATION (fall 2021 - winter 2022)

    In this Stage we wrote, reviewed, and submitted a Request for Proposals for the middle school review. From the submitted proposals, we selected to work with New Solutions K-12 for their expertise in scheduling and other operational components of our middle grades program.


    STAGE I: DISCOVERY (spring 2022 - spring 2023)

    The Discovery Stage will focus on defining our current middle school program. This will include analysis of school schedules, how each school is staffed, the programming available to students, and overall budgets. The goal of this Stage is to end with a series of reports that will allow us to enter the design phase with the most accurate data and information possible.

    Phase 1: Paperwork Review (Spring 2022 - Fall 2022)

    Analyze schedules, staffing lists, and programming

    Phase 2: Engagement (Fall 2022 - Winter 2023)

    Staff, Student, and Community focus groups & surveys

    Presentation of Stage 1 Findings (Spring 2023)


    STAGE II: DESIGN (expected summer 2023 - summer 2024)

    In the Design Stage we will use the information gathered during the Discovery Stage, along with research on best practices for middle grade students to determine how we might improve our middle school program. This Stage will focus on generating ideas and prioritizing them so that we can develop an implementation plan rooted in our community values and research based practices.


    STAGE III: IMPLEMENTATION (expected fall 2024 - summer 2026)

    The Implementation Stage will take the planning from the Design Stage and work to outline and implement those plans. This will include establishing an implementation calendar, developing budgets for any changes, and designing a support plan to ensure high quality implementation. Once any changes are made and supported, we will close the formal review process and enter an ongoing maintenance and observation mode.


    Project timeline

    Comments (-1)

DISCOVERY STAGE: Opportunities for Engagement

  • The Middle School Program Review is intentionally designed to incorporate the input of students, staff, families, and community members from diverse backgrounds and perspectives across PSB. It will also ultimately help the district refine the schedules, services, and offerings at the middle school level to more effectively serve all students, including those who have been historically marginalized or excluded due to their race, gender identity, ability, economic status, linguistic ability, and other relevant identities.

    As part of this work, a team of consultants is hosting focus groups with various stakeholders - including students, staff, and families - to hear directly about their perspectives on the school schedule. Meetings will usually last 30 to 60 minutes and are held with their respective peers only (e.g. students with other students, staff with other staff). Sample questions that will be asked to all groups may include:

    • What works well / What is challenging about the current schedule?

    • What subjects or topics would you like to see more classes in at your middle school?

    • If you had a “magic wand” to change one thing about the schedule, what would it be?

    These discussions are optional and will be completely confidential. Please reach out to Gabe McCormick, Senior Director of Teaching & Learning for Secondary Education with any questions.