Overview of Middle School Education
While the traditional configuration of a middle school is comprised of grades six through eight, Pioneer Academy has chosen to configure its middle school to include grade five as well. Knowing full well that there are very varied degrees of ability demonstrated by our middle school students as a result of differences in development stages and levels of comprehension, it is our firm belief that ALL learners are capable of achieving success. It is also our belief that success is defined and represented in many different styles and forms because every student is unique and possesses his or her own set of skills that when nurtured and developed will result in a rewarding and successful middle school experience.
At the core of our middle school program is well written, clearly defined curricula that embeds either the New Jersey Common Core Standards for Math and Language Arts or the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for Science and Social Studies. In order for highly effective instruction resulting in learning for all students to be delivered, it is essential that standards based curricula be the driving force behind every lesson plan and every learning activity that is delivered in every classroom. Here at Pioneer Academy, we not only use curriculum to drive daily instruction but we also monitor units of study to insure that every standard (learning objective) is being addressed through instruction. In addition to insuring that all standards are addressed through instruction, we also place tremendous emphasis on assessment of student learning. Through a combination of formative assessment strategies (assessment for learning) and summative assessment practices (assessment of learning), student growth is monitored and teaching is adjusted accordingly so as to keep all students moving forward on the path to success.
In our middle school classrooms, it is our goal to have all education revolve around the students. Student centered learning and student engagement are the goal of every middle school teacher as learning plans are designed. Differentiated instruction, tiered lessons, flexible grouping, the use of technology to bring the outside world into the classroom and daily use of formative assessment to check for understanding and adjust instruction to meet the needs of the students enable teachers to effectively teach the varying ability levels within the classroom. These best instructional practices also encourage students to take ownership of their learning and lend themselves to the development of lifelong learners.
While student learning and success is a primary goal that shapes and defines who we are and what we do at Pioneer Academy, we also pride ourselves on addressing the needs of the well-rounded student. It is our responsibility to provide every student the opportunities that will also allow for physical, social and emotional growth. Through the curriculum and other opportunities, the specific developmental needs of the middle school student are tended to with the goal being to provide each one with all of the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully navigate the middle school years.
Dr. Cathy Labate, Ed.D
Curriculum & Assessment Coordinator