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Research & Publications

Maximizing the Middle: Reflections on United Way’s Middle Grades Success and Transition Challenge


The middle grades are a time of dramatic growth for youth. This is a time period marked by significant physical and emotional changes, as adolescents experience the early stages puberty and a late spurt in brain development. It is also a time marked by the increasing importance and influence of peers and increasing independence from parents and other family members.

A growing body of research demonstrates that strengthening the middle grades experience is a critical leverage point for improving high school graduation rates and increasing the number of students who graduate prepared for higher education.