The 2012-2013 Program of Studies approved earlier this week by the School Committee for and middle schools continues to align the curriculum with the Common Core standards while offering environments and support suitable for different learning levels and speeds.
South principal Edward McDonough told committee members that students today work harder than ever and are very involved in the learning process, including contributing feedback for the curriculum.
"They're really in a hands-on, brains-on routine every day," McDonough said. As for teachers and staff, he added, "When people have such passion for what they do, it's what makes middle school work."
The program includes subjects ranging from English and Social Studies to Music, Fine Arts and Foreign Lanuages in grades 6-8. Teachers work in teams to collaborate on lesson plans, define common goals and develope support for struggling students. Academic groupings place students in one of four levels in English and Social Studies and in one of two clusters in math and science.
"All students possess unique talents and gifts and should be encouraged to reach their maximum individual potential," the Braintree Public Schools' mission statement says, in part.
The schools also offer interscholastic boys and girls basketball and soccer, after-school activities and in sixth grade, computer courses. That is one subject area that East principal John Sheehan said he would like to see expanded, along with health. Sheehan said he is "not a fan" of the many studies that students are placed in, a result of budget constraints that limit additional offerings.
"We have a lot of offer," Sheehan said. "We just need to offer it to more people."
Last year, the committee into the grading process at the middle school level after a few years with a different model. Starting in September and depending on department, homework was incorporated as 10 to 15 percent of each student's term grade. A separate homework notation was also included to keep the grading structure transparent.