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Bush Institute Launches Landmark Plan to Transform and Improve Schools

February 3, 2013

Nearly one-third of America’s young people fail to graduate from high school in four years.

To address that need, the George W. Bush Institute today announced Middle School Matters, a landmark education initiative to increase the number of children who complete middle school at grade level and go on to graduate from high school ready for college or a good job.

Former first lady Mrs. Laura W. Bush announced the program at Stovall Middle School of the Aldine Independent School District in Houston.

"Middle school is the last and best chance to prepare students for a successful high school career,” Mrs. Bush said to a crowd of 400 students, teachers, parents, education policy experts and city and school leaders. “Research shows with systematic, intensive interventions that students who started middle school behind can catch up."

Middle School Matters is the most comprehensive research-based program to be applied to middle schools. The Institute has partnered with the nation’s top researchers to integrate, for the first time, proven practices that yield significant advances in middle school student achievement and readiness for high school. Implemented as a total package, Middle School Matters provides the proven mix of interventions to guarantee success.

Researchers developing Middle School Matters have identified 11 elements as critical for middle school success. These elements include concepts such as “school leadership” and “reading and reading interventions.” Middle School Matters incorporates key benchmarks, such as the ability to read for learning, write to communicate and perform complex math equations at grade level. Under each of the 11 elements, a research team convened by the Bush Institute prescribes 5-8 data-driven specifications that include practical examples of how to best implement the research in the classroom.

“At the Bush Institute, we think big, work together, and get results,” said James K. Glassman, executive director of the Bush Institute. “Middle School Matters will dramatically transform our partner middle schools and create an environment where students enter high school ready to do the work.”

Middle School Matters will be implemented in three phases. The program is currently in Phase One, which includes building the platform and ensuring that all components work together cohesively. Phase Two will pilot the program in 10-15 schools. Each pilot school will undergo a tailored needs assessment and will be matched with a support team to assist in the implementation of the Middle School Matters specifications over two years. Phase Three will evaluate the pilot programs and scale the initiative to engage more schools.

Initial funding for Middle School Matters has been generously provided by a $500,000 donation from the Meadows Foundation.

“The Meadows Foundation has long believed that middle school is a critical transition period for young people and we must provide special attention to these students to ensure their academic success,” said Linda Evans, president and CEO of the the Meadows Foundation. “We applaud the Bush Institute for taking the lead to develop effective strategies to improve middle school students' outcomes and appreciate the opportunity to partner with them to focus on this effort.”

Other collaborators include America’s Promise, Civic Enterprises, Southern Regional Education Board, Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas, Dallas, and Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University.

"America's Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University are excited about partnering with the Bush Institute,” said John Bridgeland, president and CEO of Civic Enterprises. “Middle School Matters is addressing a very critical part of the pipeline in helping students stay in school and be successful once they leave. The Institute's focus on research-based strategies is an excellent one and we look forward to working in tandem with this initiative.”

For more information on Middle School Matters, and to learn more about the education reform initiatives at the George W. Bush Institute, please visit www.bushcenter.com.

About the George W. Bush Institute:
The George W. Bush Institute’s mission is to unleash human potential around the world through expanding human freedom, educational reform, global health, and economic growth. In all its programming, the Institute seeks to empower women and social entrepreneurs as proven agents of change in society. The Institute is part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which includes the Presidential library, located on the campus of SMU in Dallas. For more information, please visit www.bushcenter.com.