Middle Level Education (grades 4-8)

Mission Statement 

The World Health Organization identifies adolescence as a key transitional period between childhood and adulthood, one in which students are reaching physical maturation and navigating shifts in identity, social relationships, and intellectual development. As noted by WHO, this means that early adolescence is a unique “time of tremendous growth and potential, it is also a time of considerable risk during which social contexts exert powerful influences.”[1] bullying, suicide, etc.

We believe young adolescents require and deserve teachers and schools with specialized knowledge, expertise, and skills that are based in respect for this stage of development. Middle grade classrooms (grades 4-8) are therefore sites that serve as important places of transition from elementary school to high school. Nevertheless: middle schools and the middle years are not only defined by this developmentally-transitional role. Middle school education has its own history, body of research-based knowledge, and practices, including a commitment to collaboration, integration, democracy, inclusivity, and challenging and meaningful academic learning.

Middle grades teachers require and deserve a pre-service education that is led by faculty members, supervisors, and mentors who share these commitments. Here at Penn State University, we have approached the design of our program so that teacher candidates learn through and are supported in development of teaching practices.


[1] http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/topics/adolescence/dev/en/