Lessons on Grit, Problem Solving and Career Preparation

Help Students Succeed in High School

-- New Report Offers Tools to Smooth Transitions from Middle to High School --

Contact: Amy Plotch, Amy Sutnick Plotch Communications, [email protected], (201)-741-5946

(May 10, 2016) New York, N.Y. – Middle schoolers preparing for high school can leverage life experiences, persistence and problem-solving skills to help ease their transition, says a new guide for teachers and youth development practitioners. Three community-based organizations, Breakthrough New York, Citizen Schools New York – New Jersey and The Opportunity Network pooled their expertise to identify best practices to help foster key skills that lead to high school, college and ultimately career success.

de, Middle School Pathways to Success: A Practitioner’s Guide, offers concrete tools that focus on seven competencies: leadership, perseverance/grit, verbal communication, collaboration, problem solving skills, career-ready skills, and academic skills and behaviors. It highlights real world case studies and sample tools for program developers to create activities that are appropriate for students at each stage from grades six to nine.

“We know that building these competencies are as important to a student’s success as traditional academic learning, but there is very little practical information on how to do that. This report offers hands-on guidance that can jump start better program development,” says Jessica Pliska, Founder and CEO of The Opportunity Network.

Case studies include small group activities that teach collaboration, mock interviews that teach verbal communications and build career readiness, and coaching on how to persevere thrugh challenges in school and out. All of the activities have been used successfully with New York City youth in sixth to ninth grades.

Katherine Mott, Executive Director at Citizen Schools New York – New Jersey says, “This report details specific activities that organizations can implement to deepen their impact, as well as guiding professionals to empower students to capitalize on their assets.”

Building programs that take into account socioeconomic status, grade-by-grade development and individual differences is another key to effectiveness. While most middle school programs are “one size fits all,” that approach doesn’t work for the majority of students. 

“The middle school years are a critical time in the intellectual, emotional and physical development of a young person,” adds Rhea Wong, Executive Director at Breakthrough New York. “As a result, our interventions must be thoughtful, age-appropriate and responsive to the ever-changing needs of the middle schooler.”

Middle School Pathways to Success: A Practitioner’s Guide was researched and written by Glass Frog Solutions. It is derived from the full research report, which was generously funded by the Heckscher Foundation for Children. Middle School Pathways to Success can be downloaded here.