- Report Published -
|The Appropriateness of Designating the Middle School as the Third Level of Public Education in Virginia|
|Board of Education|
|SJR 117 (1990)|
|In Senate Joint Resolution No. 117 the General Assembly endorsed the process for restructuring education in middle school grades, and requested that the Board of Education determine the appropriateness of designating the middle school as a separate level in the educational structure, focusing on curriculum and program needs.|
The study first considers the literature and research, national trends, and recent emphasis in the Department of Education, all of which support a need for continuing emphasis on services and practices in middle level education which are different from those in the high school or elementary school grades. The study finds that middle level education is delivered in separate (middle, intermediate or junior high) schools in 103 of Virginia's 133 school divisions (with 89% of the state's total membership), and that at least 62 school divisions (with 62% of the state's total membership), will be organized with middle schools with grades 6-8 by 1992. A survey of division superintendents indicates that a clear majority of those responding support the designation of middle school as a third level of education.
The language "elementary and secondary" appeared first in the 1971 Constitution, and has been repeated since then in the Code. The Attorney General's Office has indicated that, because the Code may not differ from the Constitution, amending § 22.1-1. of the Code to include "middle" or "elementary, middle and high" in the definition of "elementary and Secondary." A constitutional amendment or revision would be needed to fully designate the middle school as a separate level in the educational structure, along with "elementary and secondary."
Because a constitutional revision or amendment would be necessary to fully designate the middle school as a separate level in the educational structure, and because constitutional revision is a more difficult and time-consuming process than amending and reenacting the Code, it is recommended that the designation of middle schools proceed in two stages.