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SFUSD middle grades undergo redesign

Press Release

​San Francisco (January 31, 2019) - San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) leaders shared an update with the San Francisco Board of Education detailing progress with the Middle Grades Redesign Initiative, a multi-year effort that overhauls how 6th, 7th and 8th grade students are taught in the San Francisco Unified School District.

Launched in 2015 in response to calls from the Board of Education to expand access to arts, computer science, health and world languages for all middle grade students, the redesign is intended to remove existing institutional barriers for all students and provide additional professional collaboration and development opportunities for teachers to reimagine and redesign teaching and learning across all subject areas.

“This is an exciting time to learn — and teach — in SFUSD,” Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said. “In collaboration with educators, school leaders, students, families, central departments and community partners, we are redesigning the middle grades experience so that each and every student has access to a world-class education, and equitable, personalized support.”

Currently schedules at middle schools vary from school to school. The proposed redesign calls for all students to take eight courses per week in a block schedule, which means that instead of 50-minute periods, classes meet longer on alternate days to allow time for deeper learning.

All students will take core courses (language arts, math, history, science, P.E.) and exploratory courses (Computer Science, Health, Visual and Performing Arts, World Language). While a limited number of English Language Learners and students with disabilities currently participate in elective courses, with the redesign all students will have various access to courses that are based on their needs and interests.

SFUSD leaders said they are also committed to infusing culturally competent curriculum throughout and they are currently developing ethnic studies curriculum for middle school.

The redesign proposal also includes a weekly afternoon early release for all SFUSD middle schools, which will allow teachers more time to build their professional capacity. The aligned professional learning time will enable more educators to collaborate and design together on interdisciplinary projects and lessons.

Several middle and K-8 schools have already begun rolling out the redesign with various elements of the deeper learning principles. Already hundreds of middle school students are participating in more project-based learning opportunities, technology integration and course scheduling that enables deeper learning.

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Page updated on 01/31/19